Part 5 out of 7
like 'swagger'; because of course it wasn't really necessary.
Besides, he did not want to go, for the other side of this young
Forsyte recoiled from leaping before he looked. It was altogether
mixed pickles within him, hot and sickly pickles, and he became
quite unlike his serene and rather lordly self.
And then one day he saw that which moved him to uneasy wrath--two
riders, in a glade of the Park close to the Ham Gate, of whom she
on the left-hand was most assuredly Holly on her silver roan, and
he on the right-hand as assuredly that 'squirt' Val Dartie. His
first impulse was to urge on his own horse and demand the meaning
of this portent, tell the fellow to 'bunk,' and take Holly home.
His second--to feel that he would look a fool if they refused. He
reined his horse in behind a tree, then perceived that it was
equally impossible to spy on them. Nothing for it but to go home
and await her coming! Sneaking out with that young bounder! He
could not consult with June, because she had gone up that morning
in the train of Eric Cobbley and his lot. And his father was still
in 'that rotten Paris.' He felt that this was emphatically one of
those moments for which he had trained himself, assiduously, at
school, where he and a boy called Brent had frequently set fire to
newspapers and placed them in the centre of their studies to
accustom them to coolness in moments of danger. He did not feel at
all cool waiting in the stable-yard, idly stroking the dog
Balthasar, who queasy as an old fat monk, and sad in the absence of
his master, turned up his face, panting with gratitude for this
attention. It was half an hour before Holly came, flushed and ever
so much prettier than she had any right to look. He saw her look
at him quickly--guiltily of course--then followed her in, and,
taking her arm, conducted her into what had been their grand-
father's study. The room, not much used now, was still vaguely
haunted for them both by a presence with which they associated
tenderness, large drooping white moustaches, the scent of cigar
smoke, and laughter. Here Jolly, in the prime of his youth, before
he went to school at all, had been wont to wrestle with his grand-
father, who even at eighty had an irresistible habit of crooking
his leg. Here Holly, perched on the arm of the great leather
chair, had stroked hair curving silvery over an ear into which she
would whisper secrets. Through that window they had all three
sallied times without number to cricket on the lawn, and a
mysterious game called 'Wopsy-doozle,' not to be understood by
outsiders, which made old Jolyon very hot. Here once on a warm
night Holly had appeared in her 'nighty,' having had a bad dream,
to have the clutch of it released. And here Jolly, having begun
the day badly by introducing fizzy magnesia into Mademoiselle
Beauce's new-laid egg, and gone on to worse, had been sent down (in
the absence of his father) to the ensuing dialogue:
"Now, my boy, you mustn't go on like this."
"Well, she boxed my ears, Gran, so I only boxed hers, and then she
boxed mine again."
"Strike a lady? That'll never do! Have you begged her pardon?"
"Then you must go and do it at once. Come along."
"But she began it, Gran; and she had two to my one."
"My dear, it was an outrageous thing to do."
"Well, she lost her temper; and I didn't lose mine."
"You come too, then, Gran."
"Well--this time only."
And they had gone hand in hand.
Here--where the Waverley novels and Byron's works and Gibbon's
Roman Empire and Humboldt's Cosmos, and the bronzes on the
mantelpiece, and that masterpiece of the oily school, 'Dutch
Fishing-Boats at Sunset,' were fixed as fate, and for all sign of
change old Jolyon might have been sitting there still, with legs
crossed, in the arm chair, and domed forehead and deep eyes grave
above The Times--here they came, those two grandchildren. And
"I saw you and that fellow in the Park."
The sight of blood rushing into her cheeks gave him some
satisfaction; she ought to be ashamed!
"Well?" she said.
Jolly was surprised; he had expected more, or less.
"Do you know," he said weightily, "that he called me a pro-Boer
last term? And I had to fight him."
Jolly wished to answer: 'I should have,' but it seemed beneath him.
"Look here!" he said, "what's the meaning of it? Without telling
"Why should I? Dad isn't here; why shouldn't I ride with him?"
"You've got me to ride with. I think he's an awful young rotter."
Holly went pale with anger.
"He isn't. It's your own fault for not liking him."
And slipping past her brother she went out, leaving him staring at
the bronze Venus sitting on a tortoise, which had been shielded
from him so far by his sister's dark head under her soft felt
riding hat. He felt queerly disturbed, shaken to his young
foundations. A lifelong domination lay shattered round his feet.
He went up to the Venus and mechanically inspected the tortoise.
Why didn't he like Val Dartie? He could not tell. Ignorant of
family history, barely aware of that vague feud which had started
thirteen years before with Bosinney's defection from June in favour
of Soames' wife, knowing really almost nothing about Val he was at
sea. He just did dislike him. The question, however, was: What
should he do? Val Dartie, it was true, was a second-cousin, but it
was not the thing for Holly to go about with him. And yet to
'tell' of what he had chanced on was against his creed. In this
dilemma he went and sat in the old leather chair and crossed his
legs. It grew dark while he sat there staring out through the long
window at the old oak-tree, ample yet bare of leaves, becoming
slowly just a shape of deeper dark printed on the dusk.
'Grandfather!' he thought without sequence, and took out his watch.
He could not see the hands, but he set the repeater going. 'Five
o'clock!' His grandfather's first gold hunter watch, butter-smooth
with age--all the milling worn from it, and dented with the mark of
many a fall. The chime was like a little voice from out of that
golden age, when they first came from St. John's Wood, London, to
this house--came driving with grandfather in his carriage, and
almost instantly took to the trees. Trees to climb, and grand-
father watering the geranium-beds below! What was to be done?
Tell Dad he must come home? Confide in June?--only she was so--so
sudden! Do nothing and trust to luck? After all, the Vac. would
soon be over. Go up and see Val and warn him off? But how get his
address? Holly wouldn't give it him! A maze of paths, a cloud of
possibilities! He lit a cigarette. When he had smoked it halfway
through his brow relaxed, almost as if some thin old hand had been
passed gently over it; and in his ear something seemed to whisper:
'Do nothing; be nice to Holly, be nice to her, my dear!' And Jolly
heaved a sigh of contentment, blowing smoke through his nostrils....
But up in her room, divested of her habit, Holly was still
frowning. 'He is not--he is not!' were the words which kept
forming on her lips.
JOLYON IN TWO MINDS
A little private hotel over a well-known restaurant near the Gare
St. Lazare was Jolyon's haunt in Paris. He hated his fellow
Forsytes abroad--vapid as fish out of water in their well-trodden
runs, the Opera, Rue de Rivoli, and Moulin Rouge. Their air of
having come because they wanted to be somewhere else as soon as
possible annoyed him. But no other Forsyte came near this haunt,
where he had a wood fire in his bedroom and the coffee was excel-
lent. Paris was always to him more attractive in winter. The
acrid savour from woodsmoke and chestnut-roasting braziers, the
sharpness of the wintry sunshine on bright rays, the open cafes
defying keen-aired winter, the self-contained brisk boulevard
crowds, all informed him that in winter Paris possessed a soul
which, like a migrant bird, in high summer flew away.
He spoke French well, had some friends, knew little places where
pleasant dishes could be met with, queer types observed. He felt
philosophic in Paris, the edge of irony sharpened; life took on a
subtle, purposeless meaning, became a bunch of flavours tasted, a
darkness shot with shifting gleams of light.
When in the first week of December he decided to go to Paris, he
was far from admitting that Irene's presence was influencing him.
He had not been there two days before he owned that the wish to see
her had been more than half the reason. In England one did not
admit what was natural. He had thought it might be well to speak
to her about the letting of her flat and other matters, but in
Paris he at once knew better. There was a glamour over the city.
On the third day he wrote to her, and received an answer which
procured him a pleasurable shiver of the nerves:
"MY DEAR JOLYON,
"It will be a happiness for me to see you.
He took his way to her hotel on a bright day with a feeling such as
he had often had going to visit an adored picture. No woman, so
far as he remembered, had ever inspired in him this special sen-
suous and yet impersonal sensation. He was going to sit and feast
his eyes, and come away knowing her no better, but ready to go and
feast his eyes again to-morrow. Such was his feeling, when in the
tarnished and ornate little lounge of a quiet hotel near the river
she came to him preceded by a small page-boy who uttered the word,
"Madame," and vanished. Her face, her smile, the poise of her
figure, were just as he had pictured, and the expression of her
face said plainly: 'A friend!'
"Well," he said, "what news, poor exile?"
"Nothing from Soames?"
"I have let the flat for you, and like a good steward I bring you
some money. How do you like Paris?"
While he put her through this catechism, it seemed to him that he
had never seen lips so fine and sensitive, the lower lip curving
just a little upwards, the upper touched at one corner by the least
conceivable dimple. It was like discovering a woman in what had
hitherto been a sort of soft and breathed-on statue, almost
impersonally admired. She owned that to be alone in Paris was a
little difficult; and yet, Paris was so full of its own life that
it was often, she confessed, as innocuous as a desert. Besides,
the English were not liked just now!
"That will hardly be your case," said Jolyon; "you should appeal to
"It has its disadvantages."
"Well, you must let me take you about while I'm here. We'll start
to-morrow. Come and dine at my pet restaurant; and we'll go to the
It was the beginning of daily meetings.
Jolyon soon found that for those who desired a static condition of
the affections, Paris was at once the first and last place in which
to be friendly with a pretty woman. Revelation was alighting like
a bird in his heart, singing: 'Elle est ton reve! Elle est ton
reve! Sometimes this seemed natural, sometimes ludicrous--a bad
case of elderly rapture. Having once been ostracised by Society,
he had never since had any real regard for conventional morality;
but the idea of a love which she could never return--and how could
she at his age?--hardly mounted beyond his subconscious mind. He
was full, too, of resentment, at the waste and loneliness of her
life. Aware of being some comfort to her, and of the pleasure she
clearly took in their many little outings, he was amiably desirous
of doing and saying nothing to destroy that pleasure. It was like
watching a starved plant draw up water, to see her drink in his
companionship. So far as they could tell, no one knew her address
except himself; she was unknown in Paris, and he but little known,
so that discretion seemed unnecessary in those walks, talks, visits
to concerts, picture-galleries, theatres, little dinners,
expeditions to Versailles, St. Cloud, even Fontainebleau. And time
fled--one of those full months without past to it or future. What
in his youth would certainly have been headlong passion, was now
perhaps as deep a feeling, but far gentler, tempered to protective
companionship by admiration, hopelessness, and a sense of chivalry-
-arrested in his veins at least so long as she was there, smiling
and happy in their friendship, and always to him more beautiful and
spiritually responsive: for her philosophy of life seemed to march
in admirable step with his own, conditioned by emotion more than by
reason, ironically mistrustful, susceptible to beauty, almost
passionately humane and tolerant, yet subject to instinctive
rigidities of which as a mere man he was less capable. And during
all this companionable month he never quite lost that feeling with
which he had set out on the first day as if to visit an adored work
of art, a well-nigh impersonal desire. The future--inexorable
pendant to the present he took care not to face, for fear of
breaking up his untroubled manner; but he made plans to renew this
time in places still more delightful, where the sun was hot and
there were strange things to see and paint. The end came swiftly
on the 20th of January with a telegram:
"Have enlisted in Imperial Yeomanry.
Jolyon received it just as he was setting out to meet her at the
Louvre. It brought him up with a round turn. While he was lotus-
eating here, his boy, whose philosopher and guide he ought to be,
had taken this great step towards danger, hardship, perhaps even
death. He felt disturbed to the soul, realising suddenly how Irene
had twined herself round the roots of his being. Thus threatened
with severance, the tie between them--for it had become a kind of
tie--no longer had impersonal quality. The tranquil enjoyment of
things in common, Jolyon perceived, was gone for ever. He saw his
feeling as it was, in the nature of an infatuation. Ridiculous,
perhaps, but so real that sooner or later it must disclose itself.
And now, as it seemed to him, he could not, must not, make any such
disclosure. The news of Jolly stood inexorably in the way. He was
proud of this enlistment; proud of his boy for going off to fight
for the country; for on Jolyon's pro-Boerism, too, Black Week had
left its mark. And so the end was reached before the beginning!
Well, luckily he had never made a sign!
When he came into the Gallery she was standing before the 'Virgin
of the Rocks,' graceful, absorbed, smiling and unconscious. 'Have
I to give up seeing that?' he thought. 'It's unnatural, so long as
she's willing that I should see her.' He stood, unnoticed,
watching her, storing up the image of her figure, envying the
picture on which she was bending that long scrutiny. Twice she
turned her head towards the entrance, and he thought: 'That's for
me!' At last he went forward.
"Look!" he said.
She read the telegram, and he heard her sigh.
That sigh, too, was for him! His position was really cruel! To be
loyal to his son he must just shake her hand and go. To be loyal
to the feeling in his heart he must at least tell her what that
feeling was. Could she, would she understand the silence in which
he was gazing at that picture?
"I'm afraid I must go home at once," he said at last. "I shall
miss all this awfully."
"So shall I; but, of course, you must go."
"Well!" said Jolyon holding out his hand.
Meeting her eyes, a flood of feeling nearly mastered him.
"Such is life!" he said. "Take care of yourself, my dear!"
He had a stumbling sensation in his legs and feet, as if his brain
refused to steer him away from her. From the doorway, he saw her
lift her hand and touch its fingers with her lips. He raised his
hat solemnly, and did not look back again.
DARTIE VERSUS DARTIE
The suit--Dartie versus Dartie--for restitution of those conjugal
rights concerning which Winifred was at heart so deeply undecided,
followed the laws of subtraction towards day of judgment. This was
not reached before the Courts rose for Christmas, but the case was
third on the list when they sat again. Winifred spent the
Christmas holidays a thought more fashionably than usual, with the
matter locked up in her low-cut bosom. James was particularly
liberal to her that Christmas, expressing thereby his sympathy, and
relief, at the approaching dissolution of her marriage with that
'precious rascal,' which his old heart felt but his old lips could
The disappearance of Dartie made the fall in Consols a
comparatively small matter; and as to the scandal--the real animus
he felt against that fellow, and the increasing lead which property
was attaining over reputation in a true Forsyte about to leave this
world, served to drug a mind from which all allusions to the matter
(except his own) were studiously kept. What worried him as a
lawyer and a parent was the fear that Dartie might suddenly turn up
and obey the Order of the Court when made. That would be a pretty
how-de-do! The fear preyed on him in fact so much that, in
presenting Winifred with a large Christmas cheque, he said: "It's
chiefly for that chap out there; to keep him from coming back." It
was, of course, to pitch away good money, but all in the nature of
insurance against that bankruptcy which would no longer hang over
him if only the divorce went through; and he questioned Winifred
rigorously until she could assure him that the money had been sent.
Poor woman!--it cost her many a pang to send what must find its way
into the vanity-bag of 'that creature!' Soames, hearing of it,
shook his head. They were not dealing with a Forsyte, reasonably
tenacious of his purpose. It was very risky without knowing how
the land lay out there. Still, it would look well with the Court;
and he would see that Dreamer brought it out. "I wonder," he said
suddenly, "where that ballet goes after the Argentine"; never
omitting a chance of reminder; for he knew that Winifred still had
a weakness, if not for Dartie, at least for not laundering him in
public. Though not good at showing admiration, he admitted that
she was behaving extremely well, with all her children at home
gaping like young birds for news of their father--Imogen just on
the point of coming out, and Val very restive about the whole
thing. He felt that Val was the real heart of the matter to
Winifred, who certainly loved him beyond her other children. The
boy could spoke the wheel of this divorce yet if he set his mind to
it. And Soames was very careful to keep the proximity of the
preliminary proceedings from his nephew's ears. He did more. He
asked him to dine at the Remove, and over Val's cigar introduced
the subject which he knew to be nearest to his heart.
"I hear," he said, "that you want to play polo up at Oxford."
Val became less recumbent in his chair.
"Rather!" he said.
"Well," continued Soames, "that's a very expensive business. Your
grandfather isn't likely to consent to it unless he can make sure
that he's not got any other drain on him." And he paused to see
whether the boy understood his meaning.
Val's thick dark lashes concealed his eyes, but a slight grimace
appeared on his wide mouth, and he muttered:
"I suppose you mean my Dad!"
"Yes," said Soames; "I'm afraid it depends on whether he continues
to be a drag or not;" and said no more, letting the boy dream it
But Val was also dreaming in those days of a silver-roan palfrey
and a girl riding it. Though Crum was in town and an introduction
to Cynthia Dark to be had for the asking, Val did not ask; indeed,
he shunned Crum and lived a life strange even to himself, except in
so far as accounts with tailor and livery stable were concerned.
To his mother, his sisters, his young brother, he seemed to spend
this Vacation in 'seeing fellows,' and his evenings sleepily at
home. They could not propose anything in daylight that did not
meet with the one response: "Sorry; I've got to see a fellow"; and
he was put to extraordinary shifts to get in and out of the house
unobserved in riding clothes; until, being made a member of the
Goat's Club, he was able to transport them there, where he could
change unregarded and slip off on his hack to Richmond Park. He
kept his growing sentiment religiously to himself. Not for a world
would he breathe to the 'fellows,' whom he was not 'seeing,'
anything so ridiculous from the point of view of their creed and
his. But he could not help its destroying his other appetites. It
was coming between him and the legitimate pleasures of youth at
last on its own in a way which must, he knew, make him a milksop in
the eyes of Crum. All he cared for was to dress in his last-
created riding togs, and steal away to the Robin Hill Gate, where
presently the silver roan would come demurely sidling with its slim
and dark-haired rider, and in the glades bare of leaves they would
go off side by side, not talking very much, riding races sometimes,
and sometimes holding hands. More than once of an evening, in a
moment of expansion, he had been tempted to tell his mother how
this shy sweet cousin had stolen in upon him and wrecked his
'life.' But bitter experience, that all persons above thirty-five
were spoil-sports, prevented him. After all, he supposed he would
have to go through with College, and she would have to 'come out,'
before they could be married; so why complicate things, so long as
he could see her? Sisters were teasing and unsympathetic beings, a
brother worse, so there was no one to confide in. Ah! And this
beastly divorce business! What a misfortune to have a name which
other people hadn't! If only he had been called Gordon or Scott or
Howard or something fairly common! But Dartie--there wasn't
another in the directory! One might as well have been named Morkin
for all the covert it afforded! So matters went on, till one day
in the middle of January the silver-roan palfrey and its rider were
missing at the tryst. Lingering in the cold, he debated whether he
should ride on to the house: But Jolly might be there, and the
memory of their dark encounter was still fresh within him. One
could not be always fighting with her brother! So he returned
dismally to town and spent an evening plunged in gloom. At
breakfast next day he noticed that his mother had on an unfamiliar
dress and was wearing her hat. The dress was black with a glimpse
of peacock blue, the hat black and large--she looked exceptionally
well. But when after breakfast she said to him, "Come in here,
Val," and led the way to the drawing-room, he was at once beset by
qualms. Winifred carefully shut the door and passed her
handkerchief over her lips; inhaling the violette de Parme with
which it had been soaked, Val thought: 'Has she found out about
Her voice interrupted
"Are you going to be nice to me, dear boy?"
Val grinned doubtfully.
"Will you come with me this morning...."
"I've got to see...." began Val, but something in her face stopped
him. "I say," he said, "you don't mean...."
"Yes, I have to go to the Court this morning." Already!--that
d---d business which he had almost succeeded in forgetting, since
nobody ever mentioned it. In self-commiseration he stood picking
little bits of skin off his fingers. Then noticing that his
mother's lips were all awry, he said impulsively: "All right,
mother; I'll come. The brutes!" What brutes he did not know, but
the expression exactly summed up their joint feeling, and restored
a measure of equanimity.
"I suppose I'd better change into a 'shooter,"' he muttered,
escaping to his room. He put on the 'shooter,' a higher collar, a
pearl pin, and his neatest grey spats, to a somewhat blasphemous
accompaniment. Looking at himself in the glass, he said, "Well,
I'm damned if I'm going to show anything!" and went down. He found
his grandfather's carriage at the door, and his mother in furs,
with the appearance of one going to a Mansion House Assembly. They
seated themselves side by side in the closed barouche, and all the
way to the Courts of Justice Val made but one allusion to the
business in hand. "There'll be nothing about those pearls, will
The little tufted white tails of Winifred's muff began to shiver.
"Oh, no," she said, "it'll be quite harmless to-day. Your
grandmother wanted to come too, but I wouldn't let her. I thought
you could take care of me. You look so nice, Val. Just pull your
coat collar up a little more at the back--that's right."
"If they bully you...." began Val.
"Oh! they won't. I shall be very cool. It's the only way."
"They won't want me to give evidence or anything?"
"No, dear; it's all arranged." And she patted his hand. The
determined front she was putting on it stayed the turmoil in Val's
chest, and he busied himself in drawing his gloves off and on. He
had taken what he now saw was the wrong pair to go with his spats;
they should have been grey, but were deerskin of a dark tan;
whether to keep them on or not he could not decide. They arrived
soon after ten. It was his first visit to the Law Courts, and the
building struck him at once.
"By Jove!" he said as they passed into the hall, "this'd make four
or five jolly good racket courts."
Soames was awaiting them at the foot of some stairs.
"Here you are!" he said, without shaking hands, as if the event had
made them too familiar for such formalities. "It's Happerly
Browne, Court I. We shall be on first."
A sensation such as he had known when going in to bat was playing
now in the top of Val's chest, but he followed his mother and uncle
doggedly, looking at no more than he could help, and thinking that
the place smelled 'fuggy.' People seemed to be lurking everywhere,
and he plucked Soames by the sleeve.
"I say, Uncle, you're not going to let those beastly papers in, are
Soames gave him the sideway look which had reduced many to silence
in its time.
"In here," he said. "You needn't take off your furs, Winifred."
Val entered behind them, nettled and with his head up. In this
confounded hole everybody--and there were a good many of them--
seemed sitting on everybody else's knee, though really divided from
each other by pews; and Val had a feeling that they might all slip
down together into the well. This, however, was but a momentary
vision--of mahogany, and black gowns, and white blobs of wigs and
faces and papers, all rather secret and whispery--before he was
sitting next his mother in the front row, with his back to it all,
glad of her violette de Parme, and taking off his gloves for the
last time. His mother was looking at him; he was suddenly
conscious that she had really wanted him there next to her, and
that he counted for something in this business.
All right! He would show them! Squaring his shoulders, he crossed
his legs and gazed inscrutably at his spats. But just then an 'old
Johnny' in a gown and long wig, looking awfully like a funny
raddled woman, came through a door into the high pew opposite, and
he had to uncross his legs hastily, and stand up with everybody
'Dartie versus Dartie!'
It seemed to Val unspeakably disgusting to have one's name called
out like this in public! And, suddenly conscious that someone
nearly behind him had begun talking about his family, he screwed
his face round to see an old be-wigged buffer, who spoke as if he
were eating his own words--queer-looking old cuss, the sort of man
he had seen once or twice dining at Park Lane and punishing the
port; he knew now where they 'dug them up.' All the same he found
the old buffer quite fascinating, and would have continued to stare
if his mother had not touched his arm. Reduced to gazing before
him, he fixed his eyes on the Judge's face instead. Why should
that old 'sportsman' with his sarcastic mouth and his quick-moving
eyes have the power to meddle with their private affairs--hadn't he
affairs of his own, just as many, and probably just as nasty? And
there moved in Val, like an illness, all the deep-seated
individualism of his breed. The voice behind him droned along:
"Differences about money matters--extravagance of the respondent"
(What a word! Was that his father?)--"strained situation--frequent
absences on the part of Mr. Dartie. My client, very rightly, your
Ludship will agree, was anxious to check a course--but lead to
ruin--remonstrated--gambling at cards and on the racecourse--"
('That's right!' thought Val, 'pile it on!') "Crisis early in
October, when the respondent wrote her this letter from his Club."
Val sat up and his ears burned. "I propose to read it with the
emendations necessary to the epistle of a gentleman who has been--
shall we say dining, me Lud?"
'Old brute!' thought Val, flushing deeper; 'you're not paid to make
"'You will not get the chance to insult me again in my own house.
I am leaving the country to-morrow. It's played out'--an
expression, your Ludship, not unknown in the mouths of those who
have not met with conspicuous success."
'Sniggering owls!' thought Val, and his flush deepened.
"'I am tired of being insulted by you.' My client will tell your
Ludship that these so-called insults consisted in her calling him
'the limit',--a very mild expression, I venture to suggest, in all
Val glanced sideways at his mother's impassive face, it had a
hunted look in the eyes. 'Poor mother,' he thought, and touched
her arm with his own. The voice behind droned on.
"'I am going to live a new life. M. D.'"
"And next day, me Lud, the respondent left by the steamship
Tuscarora for Buenos Aires. Since then we have nothing from him
but a cabled refusal in answer to the letter which my client wrote
the following day in great distress, begging him to return to her.
With your Ludship's permission. I shall now put Mrs. Dartie in the
When his mother rose, Val had a tremendous impulse to rise too and
say: 'Look here! I'm going to see you jolly well treat her
decently.' He subdued it, however; heard her saying, 'the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,' and looked up. She
made a rich figure of it, in her furs and large hat, with a slight
flush on her cheek-bones, calm, matter-of-fact; and he felt proud
of her thus confronting all these 'confounded lawyers.' The
examination began. Knowing that this was only the preliminary to
divorce, Val followed with a certain glee the questions framed so
as to give the impression that she really wanted his father back.
It seemed to him that they were 'foxing Old Bagwigs finely.'
And he received a most unpleasant jar when the Judge said suddenly:
"Now, why did your husband leave you--not because you called him
'the limit,' you know?"
Val saw his uncle lift his eyes to the witness box, without moving
his face; heard a shuffle of papers behind him; and instinct told
him that the issue was in peril. Had Uncle Soames and the old
buffer behind made a mess of it? His mother was speaking with a
"No, my Lord, but it had gone on a long time."
"What had gone on?"
"Our differences about money."
"But you supplied the money. Do you suggest that he left you to
better his position?"
'The brute! The old brute, and nothing but the brute!' thought
Val suddenly. 'He smells a rat he's trying to get at the pastry!'
And his heart stood still. If--if he did, then, of course, he
would know that his mother didn't really want his father back. His
mother spoke again, a thought more fashionably.
"No, my Lord, but you see I had refused to give him any more money.
It took him a long time to believe that, but he did at last--and
when he did...."
"I see, you had refused. But you've sent him some since."
"My Lord, I wanted him back."
"And you thought that would bring him?"
"I don't know, my Lord, I acted on my father's advice."
Something in the Judge's face, in the sound of the papers behind
him, in the sudden crossing of his uncle's legs, told Val that she
had made just the right answer. 'Crafty!' he thought; 'by Jove,
what humbug it all is!'
The Judge was speaking:
"Just one more question, Mrs. Dartie. Are you still fond of your
Val's hands, slack behind him, became fists. What business had
that Judge to make things human suddenly? To make his mother speak
out of her heart, and say what, perhaps, she didn't know herself,
before all these people! It wasn't decent. His mother answered,
rather low: "Yes, my Lord." Val saw the Judge nod. 'Wish I could
take a cock-shy at your head!' he thought irreverently, as his
mother came back to her seat beside him. Witnesses to his father's
departure and continued absence followed--one of their own maids
even, which struck Val as particularly beastly; there was more
talking, all humbug; and then the Judge pronounced the decree for
restitution, and they got up to go. Val walked out behind his
mother, chin squared, eyelids drooped, doing his level best to
despise everybody. His mother's voice in the corridor roused him
from an angry trance.
"You behaved beautifully, dear. It was such a comfort to have you.
Your uncle and I are going to lunch."
"All right," said Val; "I shall have time to go and see that
fellow." And, parting from them abruptly, he ran down the stairs
and out into the air. He bolted into a hansom, and drove to the
Goat's Club. His thoughts were on Holly and what he must do before
her brother showed her this thing in to-morrow's paper.
When Val had left them Soames and Winifred made their way to the
Cheshire Cheese. He had suggested it as a meeting place with Mr.
Bellby. At that early hour of noon they would have it to
themselves, and Winifred had thought it would be 'amusing' to see
this far-famed hostelry. Having ordered a light repast, to the
consternation of the waiter, they awaited its arrival together with
that of Mr. Bellby, in silent reaction after the hour and a half's
suspense on the tenterhooks of publicity. Mr. Bellby entered
presently, preceded by his nose, as cheerful as they were glum.
Well! they had got the decree of restitution, and what was the
matter with that!
"Quite," said Soames in a suitably low voice, "but we shall have to
begin again to get evidence. He'll probably try the divorce--it
will look fishy if it comes out that we knew of misconduct from the
start. His questions showed well enough that he doesn't like this
"Pho!" said Mr. Bellby cheerily, "he'll forget! Why, man, he'll
have tried a hundred cases between now and then. Besides, he's
bound by precedent to give ye your divorce, if the evidence is
satisfactory. We won't let um know that Mrs. Dartie had knowledge
of the facts. Dreamer did it very nicely--he's got a fatherly
touch about um!"
"And I compliment ye, Mrs. Dartie," went on Mr. Bellby; "ye've a
natural gift for giving evidence. Steady as a rock."
Here the, waiter arrived with three plates balanced on one arm, and
the remark: "I 'urried up the pudden, sir. You'll find plenty o'
lark in it to-day."
Mr. Bellby applauded his forethought with a dip of his nose. But
Soames and Winifred looked with dismay at their light lunch of
gravified brown masses, touching them gingerly with their forks in
the hope of distinguishing the bodies of the tasty little song-
givers. Having begun, however, they found they were hungrier than
they thought, and finished the lot, with a glass of port apiece.
Conversation turned on the war. Soames thought Ladysmith would
fall, and it might last a year. Bellby thought it would be over by
the summer. Both agreed that they wanted more men. There was
nothing for it but complete victory, since it was now a question of
prestige. Winifred brought things back to more solid ground by
saying that she did not want the divorce suit to come on till after
the summer holidays had begun at Oxford, then the boys would have
forgotten about it before Val had to go up again; the London season
too would be over. The lawyers reassured her, an interval of six
months was necessary--after that the earlier the better. People
were now beginning to come in, and they parted--Soames to the city,
Bellby to his chambers, Winifred in a hansom to Park Lane to let
her mother know how she had fared. The issue had been so
satisfactory on the whole that it was considered advisable to tell
James, who never failed to say day after day that he didn't know
about Winifred's affair, he couldn't tell. As his sands ran out;
the importance of mundane matters became increasingly grave to him,
as if he were feeling: 'I must make the most of it, and worry well;
I shall soon have nothing to worry about.'
He received the report grudgingly. It was a new-fangled way of
going about things, and he didn't know! But he gave Winifred a
"I expect you'll have a lot of expense. That's a new hat you've
got on. Why doesn't Val come and see us?"
Winifred promised to bring him to dinner soon. And, going home,
she sought her bedroom where she could be alone. Now that her
husband had been ordered back into her custody with a view to
putting him away from her for ever, she would try once more to find
out from her sore and lonely heart what she really wanted.
The morning had been misty, verging on frost, but the sun came out
while Val was jogging towards the Roehampton Gate, whence he would
canter on to the usual tryst. His spirits were rising rapidly.
There had been nothing so very terrible in the morning's
proceedings beyond the general disgrace of violated privacy. 'If
we were engaged!' he thought, 'what happens wouldn't matter.' He
felt, indeed, like human society, which kicks and clamours at the
results of matrimony, and hastens to get married. And he galloped
over the winter-dried grass of Richmond Park, fearing to be late.
But again he was alone at the trysting spot, and this second
defection on the part of Holly upset him dreadfully. He could not
go back without seeing her to-day! Emerging from the Park, he
proceeded towards Robin Hill. He could not make up his mind for
whom to ask. Suppose her father were back, or her sister or
brother were in! He decided to gamble, and ask for them all first,
so that if he were in luck and they were not there, it would be
quite natural in the end to ask for Holly; while if any of them
were in--an 'excuse for a ride' must be his saving grace.
"Only Miss Holly is in, sir."
"Oh! thanks. Might I take my horse round to the stables? And
would you say--her cousin, Mr. Val Dartie."
When he returned she was in the hall, very flushed and shy. She
led him to the far end, and they sat down on a wide window-seat.
"I've been awfully anxious," said Val in a low voice. "What's the
"Jolly knows about our riding."
"Is he in?"
"No; but I expect he will be soon."
"Then!" cried Val, and diving forward, he seized her hand. She
tried to withdraw it, failed, gave up the attempt, and looked at
"First of all," he said, "I want to tell you something about my
family. My Dad, you know, isn't altogether--I mean, he's left my
mother and they're trying to divorce him; so they've ordered him to
come back, you see. You'll see that in the paper to-morrow."
Her eyes deepened in colour and fearful interest; her hand squeezed
his. But the gambler in Val was roused now, and he hurried on:
"Of course there's nothing very much at present, but there will be,
I expect, before it's over; divorce suits are beastly, you know. I
wanted to tell you, because--because--you ought to know--if--" and
he began to stammer, gazing at her troubled eyes, "if--if you're
going to be a darling and love me, Holly. I love you--ever so; and
I want to be engaged." He had done it in a manner so inadequate
that he could have punched his own head; and dropping on his knees,
he tried to get nearer to that soft, troubled face. "You do love
me--don't you? If you don't I...." There was a moment of silence
and suspense, so awful that he could hear the sound of a mowing-
machine far out on the lawn pretending there was grass to cut.
Then she swayed forward; her free hand touched his hair, and he
gasped: "Oh, Holly!"
Her answer was very soft: "Oh, Val!"
He had dreamed of this moment, but always in an imperative mood, as
the masterful young lover, and now he felt humble, touched,
trembly. He was afraid to stir off his knees lest he should break
the spell; lest, if he did, she should shrink and deny her own
surrender--so tremulous was she in his grasp, with her eyelids
closed and his lips nearing them. Her eyes opened, seemed to swim
a little; he pressed his lips to hers. Suddenly he sprang up;
there had been footsteps, a sort of startled grunt. He looked
round. No one! But the long curtains which barred off the outer
hall were quivering.
"My God! Who was that?"
Holly too was on her feet.
"Jolly, I expect," she whispered.
Val clenched fists and resolution.
"All right!" he said, "I don't care a bit now we're engaged," and
striding towards the curtains, he drew them aside. There at the
fireplace in the hall stood Jolly, with his back elaborately
turned. Val went forward. Jolly faced round on him.
"I beg your pardon for hearing," he said.
With the best intentions in the world, Val could not help admiring
him at that moment; his face was clear, his voice quiet, he looked
somehow distinguished, as if acting up to principle.
"Well!" Val said abruptly, "it's nothing to you."
"Oh!" said Jolly; "you come this way," and he crossed the hall.
Val followed. At the study door he felt a touch on his arm;
Holly's voice said:
"I'm coming too."
"No," said Jolly.
"Yes," said Holly.
Jolly opened the door, and they all three went in. Once in the
little room, they stood in a sort of triangle on three corners of
the worn Turkey carpet; awkwardly upright, not looking at each
other, quite incapable of seeing any humour in the situation.
Val broke the silence.
"Holly and I are engaged.",
Jolly stepped back and leaned against the lintel of the window.
"This is our house," he said; "I'm not going to insult you in it.
But my father's away. I'm in charge of my sister. You've taken
advantage of me.
"I didn't mean to," said Val hotly.
"I think you did," said Jolly. "If you hadn't meant to, you'd have
spoken to me, or waited for my father to come back."
"There were reasons," said Val.
"About my family--I've just told her. I wanted her to know before
Jolly suddenly became less distinguished.
"You're kids," he said, "and you know you are.
"I am not a kid," said Val.
"You are--you're not twenty."
"Well, what are you?"
"I am twenty," said Jolly.
"Only just; anyway, I'm as good a man as you."
Jolly's face crimsoned, then clouded. Some struggle was evidently
taking place in him; and Val and Holly stared at him, so clearly
was that struggle marked; they could even hear him breathing. Then
his face cleared up and became oddly resolute.
"We'll see that," he said. "I dare you to do what I'm going to
Jolly smiled. "Yes," he said, "dare you; and I know very well you
A stab of misgiving shot through Val; this was riding very blind.
"I haven't forgotten that you're a fire-eater," said Jolly slowly,
"and I think that's about all you are; or that you called me a
Val heard a gasp above the sound of his own hard breathing, and saw
Holly's face poked a little forward, very pale, with big eyes.
"Yes," went on Jolly with a sort of smile, "we shall soon see. I'm
going to join the Imperial Yeomanry, and I dare you to do the same,
Mr. Val Dartie."
Val's head jerked on its stem. It was like a blow between the
eyes, so utterly unthought of, so extreme and ugly in the midst of
his dreaming; and he looked at Holly with eyes grown suddenly,
"Sit down!" said Jolly. "Take your time! Think it over well."
And he himself sat down on the arm of his grandfather's chair.
Val did not sit down; he stood with hands thrust deep into his
breeches' pockets-hands clenched and quivering. The full awfulness
of this decision one way or the other knocked at his mind with
double knocks as of an angry postman. If he did not take that
'dare' he was disgraced in Holly's eyes, and in the eyes of that
young enemy, her brute of a brother. Yet if he took it, ah! then
all would vanish--her face, her eyes, her hair, her kisses just
"Take your time," said Jolly again; "I don't want to be unfair."
And they both looked at Holly. She had recoiled against the
bookshelves reaching to the ceiling; her dark head leaned against
Gibbon's Roman Empire, her eyes in a sort of soft grey agony were
fixed on Val. And he, who had not much gift of insight, had
suddenly a gleam of vision. She would be proud of her brother--
that enemy! She would be ashamed of him! His hands came out of
his pockets as if lifted by a spring.
"All right!" he said. "Done!"
Holly's face--oh! it was queer! He saw her flush, start forward.
He had done the right thing--her face was shining with wistful
admiration. Jolly stood up and made a little bow as who should
say: 'You've passed.'
"To-morrow, then," he said, "we'll go together."
Recovering from the impetus which had carried him to that decision,
Val looked at him maliciously from under his lashes. 'All right,'
he thought, 'one to you. I shall have to join--but I'll get back
on you somehow.' And he said with dignity: "I shall be ready."
"We'll meet at the main Recruiting Office, then," said Jolly, "at
twelve o'clock." And, opening the window, he went out on to the
terrace, conforming to the creed which had made him retire when he
surprised them in the hall.
The confusion in the mind of Val thus left alone with her for whom
he had paid this sudden price was extreme. The mood of 'showing-
off' was still, however, uppermost. One must do the wretched thing
with an air.
"We shall get plenty of riding and shooting, anyway," he said;
"that's one comfort." And it gave him a sort of grim pleasure to
hear the sigh which seemed to come from the bottom of her heart.
"Oh! the war'll soon be over," he said; "perhaps we shan't even
have to go out. I don't care, except for you." He would be out of
the way of that beastly divorce. It was an ill-wind! He felt her
warm hand slip into his. Jolly thought he had stopped their loving
each other, did he? He held her tightly round the waist, looking
at her softly through his lashes, smiling to cheer her up,
promising to come down and see her soon, feeling somehow six inches
taller and much more in command of her than he had ever dared feel
before. Many times he kissed her before he mounted and rode back
to town. So, swiftly, on the least provocation, does the
possessive instinct flourish and grow.
DINNER AT JAMES'
Dinner parties were not now given at James' in Park Lane--to every
house the moment comes when Master or Mistress is no longer 'up to
it'; no more can nine courses be served to twenty mouths above
twenty fine white expanses; nor does the household cat any longer
wonder why she is suddenly shut up.
So with something like excitement Emily--who at seventy would still
have liked a little feast and fashion now and then--ordered dinner
for six instead of two, herself wrote a number of foreign words on
cards, and arranged the flowers--mimosa from the Riviera, and white
Roman hyacinths not from Rome. There would only be, of course,
James and herself, Soames, Winifred, Val, and Imogen--but she liked
to pretend a little and dally in imagination with the glory of the
past. She so dressed herself that James remarked:
"What are you putting on that thing for? You'll catch cold."
But Emily knew that the necks of women are protected by love of
shining, unto fourscore years, and she only answered:
"Let me put you on one of those dickies I got you, James; then
you'll only have to change your trousers, and put on your velvet
coat, and there you'll be. Val likes you to look nice."
"Dicky!" said James. "You're always wasting your money on
But he suffered the change to be made till his neck also shone,
"He's an extravagant chap, I'm afraid."
A little brighter in the eye, with rather more colour than usual in
his cheeks, he took his seat in the drawing-room to wait for the
sound of the front-door bell.
"I've made it a proper dinner party," Emily said comfortably; "I
thought it would be good practice for Imogen--she must get used to
it now she's coming out."
James uttered an indeterminate sound, thinking of Imogen as she
used to climb about his knee or pull Christmas crackers with him.
"She'll be pretty," he muttered, "I shouldn't wonder."
"She is pretty," said Emily; "she ought to make a good match."
"There you go," murmured James; "she'd much better stay at home and
look after her mother." A second Dartie carrying off his pretty
granddaughter would finish him! He had never quite forgiven Emily
for having been as much taken in by Montague Dartie as he himself
"Where's Warmson?" he said suddenly. "I should like a glass of
"There's champagne, James."
James shook his head. "No body," he said; "I can't get any good
out of it."
Emily reached forward on her side of the fire and rang the bell.
"Your master would like a bottle of Madeira opened, Warmson."
"No, no!" said James, the tips of his ears quivering with
vehemence, and his eyes fixed on an object seen by him alone.
"Look here, Warmson, you go to the inner cellar, and on the middle
shelf of the end bin on the left you'll see seven bottles; take the
one in the centre, and don't shake it. It's the last of the
Madeira I had from Mr. Jolyon when we came in here--never been
moved; it ought to be in prime condition still; but I don't know, I
"Very good, sir," responded the withdrawing Warmson.
"I was keeping it for our golden wedding," said James suddenly,
"but I shan't live three years at my age."
"Nonsense, James," said Emily, "don't talk like that."
"I ought to have got it up myself," murmured James, "he'll shake it
as likely as not." And he sank into silent recollection of long
moments among the open gas-jets, the cobwebs and the good smell of
wine-soaked corks, which had been appetiser to so many feasts. In
the wine from that cellar was written the history of the forty odd
years since he had come to the Park Lane house with his young
bride, and of the many generations of friends and acquaintances who
had passed into the unknown; its depleted bins preserved the record
of family festivity--all the marriages, births, deaths of his kith
and kin. And when he was gone there it would be, and he didn't
know what would become of it. It'd be drunk or spoiled, he
From that deep reverie the entrance of his son dragged him,
followed very soon by that of Winifred and her two eldest.
They went down arm-in-arm--James with Imogen, the debutante,
because his pretty grandchild cheered him; Soames with Winifred;
Emily with Val, whose eyes lighting on the oysters brightened.
This was to be a proper full 'blowout' with 'fizz' and port! And
he felt in need of it, after what he had done that day, as yet
undivulged. After the first glass or two it became pleasant to
have this bombshell up his sleeve, this piece of sensational
patriotism, or example, rather, of personal daring, to display--for
his pleasure in what he had done for his Queen and Country was so
far entirely personal. He was now a 'blood,' indissolubly
connected with guns and horses; he had a right to swagger--not, of
course, that he was going to. He should just announce it quietly,
when there was a pause. And, glancing down the menu, he determined
on 'Bombe aux fraises' as the proper moment; there would be a
certain solemnity while they were eating that. Once or twice
before they reached that rosy summit of the dinner he was attacked
by remembrance that his grandfather was never told anything!
Still, the old boy was drinking Madeira, and looking jolly fit!
Besides, he ought to be pleased at this set-off to the disgrace of
the divorce. The sight of his uncle opposite, too, was a sharp
incentive. He was so far from being a sportsman that it would be
worth a lot to see his face. Besides, better to tell his mother in
this way than privately, which might upset them both! He was sorry
for her, but after all one couldn't be expected to feel much for
others when one had to part from Holly.
His grandfather's voice travelled to him thinly. "Val, try a
little of the Madeira with your ice. You won't get that up at
Val watched the slow liquid filling his glass, the essential oil of
the old wine glazing the surface; inhaled its aroma, and thought:
'Now for it!' It was a rich moment. He sipped, and a gentle glow
spread in his veins, already heated. With a rapid look round, he
said, "I joined the Imperial Yeomanry to-day, Granny," and emptied
his glass as though drinking the health of his own act.
"What!" It was his mother's desolate little word.
"Young Jolly Forsyte and I went down there together."
"You didn't sign?" from Uncle Soames.
"Rather! We go into camp on Monday."
"I say!" cried Imogen.
All looked at James. He was leaning forward with his hand behind
"What's that?" he said. "What's he saying? I can't hear."
Emily reached forward to pat Val's hand.
"It's only that Val has joined the Yeomanry, James; it's very nice
for him. He'll look his best in uniform."
"Joined the--rubbish!" came from James, tremulously loud. "You
can't see two yards before your nose. He--he'll have to go out
there. Why! he'll be fighting before he knows where he is."
Val saw Imogen's eyes admiring him, and his mother still and
fashionable with her handkerchief before her lips.
Suddenly his uncle spoke.
"You're under age."
"I thought of that," smiled Val; "I gave my age as twenty-one."
He heard his grandmother's admiring, "Well, Val, that was plucky of
you;" was conscious of Warmson deferentially filling his champagne
glass; and of his grandfather's voice moaning: "I don't know
what'll become of you if you go on like this."
Imogen was patting his shoulder, his uncle looking at him sidelong;
only his mother sat unmoving, till, affected by her stillness, Val
"It's all right, you know; we shall soon have them on the run. I
only hope I shall come in for something."
He felt elated, sorry, tremendously important all at once. This
would show Uncle Soames, and all the Forsytes, how to be sportsmen.
He had certainly done something heroic and exceptional in giving
his age as twenty-one.
Emily's voice brought him back to earth.
"You mustn't have a second glass, James. Warmson!"
"Won't they be astonished at Timothy's!" burst out Imogen. "I'd
give anything to see their faces. Do you have a sword, Val, or
only a popgun?"
"What made you?"
His uncle's voice produced a slight chill in the pit of Val's
stomach. Made him? How answer that? He was grateful for his
"Well, I think it's very plucky of Val. I'm sure he'll make a
splendid soldier; he's just the figure for it. We shall all be
proud of him."
"What had young Jolly Forsyte to do with it? Why did you go
together?" pursued Soames, uncannily relentless. "I thought you
weren't friendly with him?"
"I'm not," mumbled Val, "but I wasn't going to be beaten by him."
He saw his uncle look at him quite differently, as if approving.
His grandfather was nodding too, his grandmother tossing her head.
They all approved of his not being beaten by that cousin of his.
There must be a reason! Val was dimly conscious of some disturbing
point outside his range of vision; as it might be, the unlocated
centre of a cyclone. And, staring at his uncle's face, he had a
quite unaccountable vision of a woman with dark eyes, gold hair,
and a white neck, who smelt nice, and had pretty silken clothes
which he had liked feeling when he was quite small. By Jove, yes!
Aunt Irene! She used to kiss him, and he had bitten her arm once,
playfully, because he liked it--so soft. His grandfather was
"What's his father doing?"
"He's away in Paris," Val said, staring at the very queer
expression on his uncle's face, like--like that of a snarling dog.
"Artists!" said James. The word coming from the very bottom of his
soul, broke up the dinner.
Opposite his mother in the cab going home, Val tasted the after-
fruits of heroism, like medlars over-ripe.
She only said, indeed, that he must go to his tailor's at once and
have his uniform properly made, and not just put up with what they
gave him. But he could feel that she was very much upset. It was
on his lips to console her with the spoken thought that he would be
out of the way of that beastly divorce, but the presence of Imogen,
and the knowledge that his mother would not be out of the way,
restrained him. He felt aggrieved that she did not seem more proud
of him. When Imogen had gone to bed, he risked the emotional.
"I'm awfully sorry to have to leave you, Mother."
"Well, I must make the best of it. We must try and get you a
commission as soon as we can; then you won't have to rough it so.
Do you know any drill, Val?"
"Not a scrap."
"I hope they won't worry you much. I must take you about to get
the things to-morrow. Good-night; kiss me."
With that kiss, soft and hot, between his eyes, and those words, 'I
hope they won't worry you much,' in his ears, he sat down to a
cigarette, before a dying fire. The heat was out of him--the glow
of cutting a dash. It was all a damned heart-aching bore. 'I'll
be even with that chap Jolly,' he thought, trailing up the stairs,
past the room where his mother was biting her pillow to smother a
sense of desolation which was trying to make her sob.
And soon only one of the diners at James' was awake--Soames, in his
bedroom above his father's.
So that fellow Jolyon was in Paris--what was he doing there?
Hanging round Irene! The last report from Polteed had hinted that
there might be something soon. Could it be this? That fellow,
with his beard and his cursed amused way of speaking--son of the
old man who had given him the nickname 'Man of Property,' and
bought the fatal house from him. Soames had ever resented having
had to sell the house at Robin Hill; never forgiven his uncle for
having bought it, or his cousin for living in it.
Reckless of the cold, he threw his window up and gazed out across
the Park. Bleak and dark the January night; little sound of
traffic; a frost coming; bare trees; a star or two. 'I'll see
Polteed to-morrow,' he thought. 'By God! I'm mad, I think, to
want her still. That fellow! If...? Um! No!'
DEATH OF THE DOG BALTHASAR
Jolyon, who had crossed from Calais by night, arrived at Robin
Hill on Sunday morning. He had sent no word beforehand, so walked
up from the station, entering his domain by the coppice gate.
Coming to the log seat fashioned out of an old fallen trunk, he sat
down, first laying his overcoat on it.
'Lumbago!' he thought; 'that's what love ends in at my time of
life!' And suddenly Irene seemed very near, just as she had been
that day of rambling at Fontainebleau when they had sat on a log to
eat their lunch. Hauntingly near! Odour drawn out of fallen
leaves by the pale-filtering sunlight soaked his nostrils. 'I'm
glad it isn't spring,' he thought. With the scent of sap, and the
song of birds, and the bursting of the blossoms, it would have been
unbearable! 'I hope I shall be over it by then, old fool that I
am!' and picking up his coat, he walked on into the field. He
passed the pond and mounted the hill slowly.
Near the top a hoarse barking greeted him. Up on the lawn above
the fernery he could see his old dog Balthasar. The animal, whose
dim eyes took his master for a stranger, was warning the world
against him. Jolyon gave his special whistle. Even at that
distance of a hundred yards and more he could see the dawning
recognition in the obese brown-white body. The old dog got off his
haunches, and his tail, close-curled over his back, began a feeble,
excited fluttering; he came waddling forward, gathered momentum,
and disappeared over the edge of the fernery. Jolyon expected to
meet him at the wicket gate, but Balthasar was not there, and,
rather alarmed, he turned into the fernery. On his fat side,
looking up with eyes already glazing, the old dog lay.
"What is it, my poor old man?" cried Jolyon. Balthasar's curled
and fluffy tail just moved; his filming eyes seemed saying: "I
can't get up, master, but I'm glad to see you."
Jolyon knelt down; his eyes, very dimmed, could hardly see the
slowly ceasing heave of the dog's side. He raised the head a
"What is it, dear man? Where are you hurt?" The tail fluttered
once; the eyes lost the look of life. Jolyon passed his hands all
over the inert warm bulk. There was nothing--the heart had simply
failed in that obese body from the emotion of his master's return.
Jolyon could feel the muzzle, where a few whitish bristles grew,
cooling already against his lips. He stayed for some minutes
kneeling; with his hand beneath the stiffening head. The body was
very heavy when he bore it to the top of the field; leaves had
drifted there, and he strewed it with a covering of them; there was
no wind, and they would keep him from curious eyes until the
afternoon. 'I'll bury him myself,' he thought. Eighteen years had
gone since he first went into the St. John's Wood house with that
tiny puppy in his pocket. Strange that the old dog should die just
now! Was it an omen? He turned at the gate to look back at that
russet mound, then went slowly towards the house, very choky in the
June was at home; she had come down hotfoot on hearing the news of
Jolly's enlistment. His patriotism had conquered her feeling for
the Boers. The atmosphere of his house was strange and pocketty
when Jolyon came in and told them of the dog Balthasar's death.
The news had a unifying effect. A link with the past had snapped--
the dog Balthasar! Two of them could remember nothing before his
day; to June he represented the last years of her grandfather; to
Jolyon that life of domestic stress and aesthetic struggle before
he came again into the kingdom of his father's love and wealth!
And he was gone!
In the afternoon he and Jolly took picks and spades and went out to
the field. They chose a spot close to the russet mound, so that
they need not carry him far, and, carefully cutting off the surface
turf, began to dig. They dug in silence for ten minutes, and then
"Well, old man," said Jolyon, "so you thought you ought?"
"Yes," answered Jolly; "I don't want to a bit, of course."
How exactly those words represented Jolyon's own state of mind
"I admire you for it, old boy. I don't believe I should have done
it at your age--too much of a Forsyte, I'm afraid. But I suppose
the type gets thinner with each generation. Your son, if you have
one, may be a pure altruist; who knows?"
"He won't be like me, then, Dad; I'm beastly selfish."
"No, my dear, that you clearly are not." Jolly shook his head, and
they dug again.
"Strange life a dog's," said Jolyon suddenly: "The only four-footer
with rudiments of altruism and a sense of God!"
Jolly looked at his father.
"Do you believe in God, Dad? I've never known."
At so searching a question from one to whom it was impossible to
make a light reply, Jolyon stood for a moment feeling his back
tried by the digging.
"What do you mean by God?" he said; "there are two irreconcilable
ideas of God. There's the Unknowable Creative Principle--one
believes in That. And there's the Sum of altruism in man--naturally
one believes in That."
"I see. That leaves out Christ, doesn't it?"
Jolyon stared. Christ, the link between those two ideas! Out of
the mouth of babes! Here was orthodoxy scientifically explained at
last! The sublime poem of the Christ life was man's attempt to
join those two irreconcilable conceptions of God. And since the
Sum of human altruism was as much a part of the Unknowable Creative
Principle as anything else in Nature and the Universe, a worse link
might have been chosen after all! Funny--how one went through life
without seeing it in that sort of way!
"What do you think, old man?" he said.
Jolly frowned. "Of course, my first year we talked a good bit
about that sort of thing. But in the second year one gives it up;
I don't know why--it's awfully interesting."
Jolyon remembered that he also had talked a good deal about it his
first year at Cambridge, and given it up in his second.
"I suppose," said Jolly, "it's the second God, you mean, that old
Balthasar had a sense of."
"Yes, or he would never have burst his poor old heart because of
something outside himself."
"But wasn't that just selfish emotion, really?"
Jolyon shook his head. "No, dogs are not pure Forsytes, they love
something outside themselves."
"Well, I think I'm one," he said. "You know, I only enlisted
because I dared Val Dartie to."
"We bar each other," said Jolly shortly.
"Ah!" muttered Jolyon. So the feud went on, unto the third
generation--this modern feud which had no overt expression?
'Shall I tell the boy about it?' he thought. But to what end--if
he had to stop short of his own part?
And Jolly thought: 'It's for Holly to let him know about that chap.
If she doesn't, it means she doesn't want him told, and I should be
sneaking. Anyway, I've stopped it. I'd better leave well alone!'
So they dug on in silence, till Jolyon said:
"Now, old man, I think it's big enough." And, resting on their
spades, they gazed down into the hole where a few leaves had
drifted already on a sunset wind.
"I can't bear this part of it," said Jolyon suddenly.
"Let me do it, Dad. He never cared much for me."
Jolyon shook his head.
"We'll lift him very gently, leaves and all. I'd rather not see
him again. I'll take his head. Now!"
With extreme care they raised the old dog's body, whose faded tan
and white showed here and there under the leaves stirred by the
wind. They laid it, heavy, cold, and unresponsive, in the grave,
and Jolly spread more leaves over it, while Jolyon, deeply afraid
to show emotion before his son, began quickly shovelling the earth
on to that still shape. There went the past! If only there were a
joyful future to look forward to! It was like stamping down earth
on one's own life. They replaced the turf carefully on the smooth
little mound, and, grateful that they had spared each other's
feelings, returned to the house arm-in-arm.
TIMOTHY STAYS THE ROT
On Forsyte 'Change news of the enlistment spread fast, together
with the report that June, not to be outdone, was going to become a
Red Cross nurse. These events were so extreme, so subversive of
pure Forsyteism, as to have a binding effect upon the family, and
Timothy's was thronged next Sunday afternoon by members trying to
find out what they thought about it all, and exchange with each
other a sense of family credit. Giles and Jesse Hayman would no
longer defend the coast but go to South Africa quite soon; Jolly
and Val would be following in April; as to June--well, you never
knew what she would really do.
The retirement from Spion Kop and the absence of any good news from
the seat of war imparted an air of reality to all this, clinched in
startling fashion by Timothy. The youngest of the old Forsytes--
scarcely eighty, in fact popularly supposed to resemble their
father, 'Superior Dosset,' even in his best-known characteristic of
drinking Sherry--had been invisible for so many years that he was
almost mythical. A long generation had elapsed since the risks of
a publisher's business had worked on his nerves at the age of
forty, so that he had got out with a mere thirty-five thousand
pounds in the world, and started to make his living by careful
investment. Putting by every year, at compound interest, he had
doubled his capital in forty years without having once known what
it was like to shake in his shoes over money matters. He was now
putting aside some two thousand a year, and, with the care he was
taking of himself, expected, so Aunt Hester said, to double his
capital again before he died. What he would do with it then, with
his sisters dead and himself dead, was often mockingly queried by
free spirits such as Francie, Euphemia, or young Nicholas' second,
Christopher, whose spirit was so free that he had actually said he
was going on the stage. All admitted, however, that this was best
known to Timothy himself, and possibly to Soames, who never
divulged a secret.
Those few Forsytes who had seen him reported a man of thick and
robust appearance, not very tall, with a brown-red complexion, grey
hair, and little of the refinement of feature with which most of
the Forsytes had been endowed by 'Superior Dosset's' wife, a woman
of some beauty and a gentle temperament. It was known that he had
taken surprising interest in the war, sticking flags into a map
ever since it began, and there was uneasiness as to what would
happen if the English were driven into the sea, when it would be
almost impossible for him to put the flags in the right places. As
to his knowledge of family movements or his views about them,
little was known, save that Aunt Hester was always declaring that
he was very upset. It was, then, in the nature of a portent when
Forsytes, arriving on the Sunday after the evacuation of Spion Kop,
became conscious, one after the other, of a presence seated in the
only really comfortable armchair, back to the light, concealing the
lower part of his face with a large hand, and were greeted by the
awed voice of Aunt Hester:
"Your Uncle Timothy, my dear."
Timothy's greeting to them all was somewhat identical; and rather,
as it were, passed over by him than expressed:
"How de do? How de do? 'Xcuse me gettin' up!"
Francie was present, and Eustace had come in his car; Winifred had
brought Imogen, breaking the ice of the restitution proceedings
with the warmth of family appreciation at Val's enlistment; and
Marian Tweetyman with the last news of Giles and Jesse. These with
Aunt Juley and Hester, young Nicholas, Euphemia, and--of all
people!--George, who had come with Eustace in the car, constituted
an assembly worthy of the family's palmiest days. There was not
one chair vacant in the whole of the little drawing-room, and
anxiety was felt lest someone else should arrive.
The constraint caused by Timothy's presence having worn off a
little, conversation took a military turn. George asked Aunt Juley
when she was going out with the Red Cross, almost reducing her to a
state of gaiety; whereon he turned to Nicholas and said:
"Young Nick's a warrior bold, isn't he? When's he going to don the
Young Nicholas, smiling with a sort of sweet deprecation, intimated
that of course his mother was very anxious.
"The Dromios are off, I hear," said George, turning to Marian
Tweetyman; "we shall all be there soon. En avant, the Forsytes!
Roll, bowl, or pitch! Who's for a cooler?"
Aunt Juley gurgled, George was so droll! Should Hester get
Timothy's map? Then he could show them all where they were.
At a sound from Timothy, interpreted as assent, Aunt Hester left
George pursued his image of the Forsyte advance, addressing Timothy
as Field Marshal; and Imogen, whom he had noted at once for 'a
pretty filly,'--as Vivandiere; and holding his top hat between his
knees, he began to beat it with imaginary drumsticks. The
reception accorded to his fantasy was mixed. All laughed--George
was licensed; but all felt that the family was being 'rotted'; and
this seemed to them unnatural, now that it was going to give five
of its members to the service of the Queen. George might go too
far; and there was relief when he got up, offered his arm to Aunt
Juley, marched up to Timothy, saluted him, kissed his aunt with
mock passion, said, "Oh! what a treat, dear papa! Come on,
Eustace!" and walked out, followed by the grave and fastidious
Eustace, who had never smiled.
Aunt Juley's bewildered, "Fancy not waiting for the map! You
mustn't mind him, Timothy. He's so droll!" broke the hush, and
Timothy removed the hand from his mouth.
"I don't know what things are comin' to," he was heard to say.
"What's all this about goin' out there? That's not the way to beat
Francie alone had the hardihood to observe: "What is, then, Uncle
"All this new-fangled volunteerin' and expense--lettin' money out
of the country."
Just then Aunt Hester brought in the map, handling it like a baby
with eruptions. With the assistance of Euphemia it was laid on the
piano, a small Colwood grand, last played on, it was believed, the
summer before Aunt Ann died, thirteen years ago. Timothy rose. He
walked over to the piano, and stood looking at his map while they
all gathered round.
"There you are," he said; "that's the position up to date; and very
poor it is. H'm!"
"Yes," said Francie, greatly daring, "but how are you going to
alter it, Uncle Timothy, without more men?"
"Men!" said Timothy; "you don't want men--wastin' the country's
money. You want a Napoleon, he'd settle it in a month."
"But if you haven't got him, Uncle Timothy?"
"That's their business," replied Timothy. "What have we kept the
Army up for--to eat their heads off in time of peace! They ought
to be ashamed of themselves, comin' on the country to help them
like this! Let every man stick to his business, and we shall get
And looking round him, he added almost angrily:
"Volunteerin', indeed! Throwin' good money after bad! We must
save! Conserve energy that's the only way." And with a prolonged
sound, not quite a sniff and not quite a snort, he trod on
Euphemia's toe, and went out, leaving a sensation and a faint scent
of barley-sugar behind him.
The effect of something said with conviction by one who has
evidently made a sacrifice to say it is ever considerable. And the
eight Forsytes left behind, all women except young Nicholas, were
silent for a moment round the map. Then Francie said:
"Really, I think he's right, you know. After all, what is the Army
for? They ought to have known. It's only encouraging them."
"My dear!" cried Aunt Juley, "but they've been so progressive.
Think of their giving up their scarlet. They were always so proud
of it. And now they all look like convicts. Hester and I were
saying only yesterday we were sure they must feel it very much.
Fancy what the Iron Duke would have said!"
"The new colour's very smart," said Winifred; "Val looks quite nice
Aunt Juley sighed.
"I do so wonder what Jolyon's boy is like. To think we've never
seen him! His father must be so proud of him."
"His father's in Paris," said Winifred.
Aunt Hester's shoulder was seen to mount suddenly, as if to ward
off her sister's next remark, for Juley's crumpled cheeks had
"We had dear little Mrs. MacAnder here yesterday, just back from
Paris. And whom d'you think she saw there in the street? You'll
"We shan't try, Auntie," said Euphemia.
"Irene! Imagine! After all this time; walking with a fair
"Auntie! you'll kill me! A fair beard...."
"I was going to say," said Aunt Juley severely, "a fair-bearded
gentleman. And not a day older; she was always so pretty," she
added, with a sort of lingering apology.
"Oh! tell us about her, Auntie," cried Imogen; "I can just remember
her. She's the skeleton in the family cupboard, isn't she? And
they're such fun."
Aunt Hester sat down. Really, Juley had done it now!
"She wasn't much of a skeleton as I remember her," murmured
Euphemia, "extremely well-covered."
"My dear!" said Aunt Juley, "what a peculiar way of putting it--not
"No, but what was she like?" persisted Imogen.
"I'll tell you, my child," said Francie; "a kind of modern Venus,
Euphemia said sharply: "Venus was never dressed, and she had blue
eyes of melting sapphire."
At this juncture Nicholas took his leave.
"Mrs. Nick is awfully strict," said Francie with a laugh.
"She has six children," said Aunt Juley; "it's very proper she
should be careful."
"Was Uncle Soames awfully fond of her?" pursued the inexorable
Imogen, moving her dark luscious eyes from face to face.
Aunt Hester made a gesture of despair, just as Aunt Juley answered:
"Yes, your Uncle Soames was very much attached to her."
"I suppose she ran off with someone?"
"No, certainly not; that is--not precisely.'
"What did she do, then, Auntie?"
"Come along, Imogen," said Winifred, "we must be getting back."
But Aunt Juley interjected resolutely: "She--she didn't behave at
"Oh, bother!" cried Imogen; "that's as far as I ever get."
"Well, my dear," said Francie, "she had a love affair which ended
with the young man's death; and then she left your uncle. I always
rather liked her."
"She used to give me chocolates," murmured Imogen, "and smell
"Of course!" remarked Euphemia.
"Not of course at all!" replied Francie, who used a particularly
expensive essence of gillyflower herself.
"I can't think what we are about," said Aunt Juley, raising her
hands, "talking of such things!"
"Was she divorced?" asked Imogen from the door.
"Certainly not," cried Aunt Juley; "that is--certainly not."
A sound was heard over by the far door. Timothy had re-entered the
back drawing-room. "I've come for my map," he said. "Who's been
"No one, Uncle," replied Francie with perfect truth.
Timothy took his map off the piano.
"Don't let's have anything of that sort in the family," he said.
"All this enlistin's bad enough. The country's breakin' up; I
don't know what we're comin' to." He shook a thick finger at the
room: "Too many women nowadays, and they don't know what they
So saying, he grasped the map firmly with both hands, and went out
as if afraid of being answered.
The seven women whom he had addressed broke into a subdued murmur,
out of which emerged Francie's, "Really, the Forsytes!" and Aunt
Juley's: "He must have his feet in mustard and hot water to-night,
Hester; will you tell Jane? The blood has gone to his head again,
That evening, when she and Hester were sitting alone after dinner,
she dropped a stitch in her crochet, and looked up:
"Hester, I can't think where I've heard that dear Soames wants
Irene to come back to him again. Who was it told us that George
had made a funny drawing of him with the words, 'He won't be happy
till he gets it'?"
"Eustace," answered Aunt Hester from behind The Times; "he had it
in his pocket, but he wouldn't show it us."
Aunt Juley was silent, ruminating. The clock ticked, The Times
crackled, the fire sent forth its rustling purr. Aunt Juley
dropped another stitch.
"Hester," she said, "I have had such a dreadful thought."
"Then don't tell me," said Aunt Hester quickly.
"Oh! but I must. You can't think how dreadful!" Her voice sank to
"Jolyon--Jolyon, they say, has a--has a fair beard, now."
PROGRESS OF THE CHASE
Two days after the dinner at James', Mr. Polteed provided Soames
with food for thought.
"A gentleman," he said, consulting the key concealed in his left
hand, "47 as we say, has been paying marked attention to 17 during
the last month in Paris. But at present there seems to have been
nothing very conclusive. The meetings have all been in public
places, without concealment--restaurants, the Opera, the Comique,
the Louvre, Luxembourg Gardens, lounge of the hotel, and so forth.
She has not yet been traced to his rooms, nor vice versa. They
went to Fontainebleau--but nothing of value. In short, the
situation is promising, but requires patience." And, looking up
suddenly, he added:
"One rather curious point--47 has the same name as--er--31!"
'The fellow knows I'm her husband,' thought Soames.
"Christian name--an odd one--Jolyon," continued Mr. Polteed. "We
know his address in Paris and his residence here. We don't wish,
of course, to be running a wrong hare."
"Go on with it, but be careful," said Soames doggedly.
Instinctive certainty that this detective fellow had fathomed his
secret made him all the more reticent.
"Excuse me," said Mr. Polteed, "I'll just see if there's anything
He returned with some letters. Relocking the door, he glanced at
"Yes, here's a personal one from 19 to myself."
"Well?" said Soames.
"Um!" said Mr. Polteed, "she says: '47 left for England to-day.
Address on his baggage: Robin Hill. Parted from 17 in Louvre
Gallery at 3.30; nothing very striking. Thought it best to stay
and continue observation of 17. You will deal with 47 in England
if you think desirable, no doubt.'" And Mr. Polteed lifted an
unprofessional glance on Soames, as though he might be storing
material for a book on human nature after he had gone out of
business. "Very intelligent woman, 19, and a wonderful make-up.
Not cheap, but earns her money well. There's no suspicion of being
shadowed so far. But after a time, as you know, sensitive people
are liable to get the feeling of it, without anything definite to
go on. I should rather advise letting-up on 17, and keeping an eye
on 47. We can't get at correspondence without great risk. I
hardly advise that at this stage. But you can tell your client
that it's looking up very well." And again his narrowed eyes
gleamed at his taciturn customer.
"No," said Soames suddenly, "I prefer that you should keep the
watch going discreetly in Paris, and not concern yourself with this
"Very well," replied Mr. Polteed, "we can do it."
"What--what is the manner between them?"
"I'll read you what she says," said Mr. Polteed, unlocking a bureau
drawer and taking out a file of papers; "she sums it up somewhere
confidentially. Yes, here it is! '17 very attractive--conclude
47, longer in the tooth' (slang for age, you know)--'distinctly
gone--waiting his time--17 perhaps holding off for terms,
impossible to say without knowing more. But inclined to think on
the whole--doesn't know her mind--likely to act on impulse some
day. Both have style.'"
"What does that mean?" said Soames between close lips.
"Well," murmured Mr. Polteed with a smile, showing many white
teeth, "an expression we use. In other words, it's not likely to
be a weekend business--they'll come together seriously or not at
"H'm!" muttered Soames, "that's all, is it?"
"Yes," said Mr. Polteed, "but quite promising."
'Spider!' thought Soames. "Good-day!"
He walked into the Green Park that he might cross to Victoria
Station and take the Underground into the City. For so late in
January it was warm; sunlight, through the haze, sparkled on the
frosty grass--an illumined cobweb of a day.
Little spiders--and great spiders! And the greatest spinner of
all, his own tenacity, for ever wrapping its cocoon of threads
round any clear way out. What was that fellow hanging round Irene
for? Was it really as Polteed suggested? Or was Jolyon but taking
compassion on her loneliness, as he would call it--sentimental
radical chap that he had always been? If it were, indeed, as
Polteed hinted! Soames stood still. It could not be! The fellow
was seven years older than himself, no better looking! No richer!
What attraction had he?
'Besides, he's come back,' he thought; 'that doesn't look---I'll go
and see him!' and, taking out a card, he wrote:
"If you can spare half an hour some afternoon this week, I shall be
at the Connoisseurs any day between 5.30 and 6, or I could come to
the Hotch Potch if you prefer it. I want to see you.--S. F."
He walked up St. James's Street and confided it to the porter at
the Hotch Potch.
"Give Mr. Jolyon Forsyte this as soon as he comes in," he said, and
took one of the new motor cabs into the City....
Jolyon received that card the same afternoon, and turned his face
towards the Connoisseurs. What did Soames want now? Had he got
wind of Paris? And stepping across St. James's Street, he
determined to make no secret of his visit. 'But it won't do,' he
thought, 'to let him know she's there, unless he knows already.'
In this complicated state of mind he was conducted to where Soames
was drinking tea in a small bay-window.
"No tea, thanks," said Jolyon, "but I'll go on smoking if I may."
The curtains were not yet drawn, though the lamps outside were
lighted; the two cousins sat waiting on each other.
"You've been in Paris, I hear," said Soames at last.
"Yes; just back."
"Young Val told me; he and your boy are going off, then?" Jolyon
"You didn't happen to see Irene, I suppose. It appears she's
Jolyon wreathed himself in smoke before he answered: "Yes, I saw
"How was she?"
There was another silence; then Soames roused himself in his chair.
"When I saw you last," he said, "I was in two minds. We talked,
and you expressed your opinion. I don't wish to reopen that
discussion. I only wanted to say this: My position with her is
extremely difficult. I don't want you to go using your influence
against me. What happened is a very long time ago. I'm going to
ask her to let bygones be bygones."
"You have asked her, you know," murmured Jolyon.
"The idea was new to her then; it came as a shock. But the more
she thinks of it, the more she must see that it's the only way out
for both of us."
"That's not my impression of her state of mind," said Jolyon with
particular calm. "And, forgive my saying, you misconceive the
matter if you think reason comes into it at all."
He saw his cousin's pale face grow paler--he had used, without
knowing it, Irene's own words.
"Thanks," muttered Soames, "but I see things perhaps more plainly
than you think. I only want to be sure that you won't try to
influence her against me."
"I don't know what makes you think I have any influence," said
Jolyon; "but if I have I'm bound to use it in the direction of what
I think is her happiness. I am what they call a 'feminist,' I
"Feminist!" repeated Soames, as if seeking to gain time. "Does