Part 3 out of 21
It appeared that he had been a Lincolnshire country doctor of
Cornish extraction, striking appearance, and Byronic tendencies--
a well-known figure, in fact, in his county. Bosinney's uncle by
marriage, Baynes, of Baynes and Bildeboy, a Forsyte in instincts
if not in name, had but little that was worthy to relate of his
"An odd fellow!' he would say: 'always spoke of his three eldest
boys as 'good creatures, but so dull'; they're all doing
capitally in the Indian Civil! Philip was the only one he liked.
I've heard him talk in the queerest way; he once said to me: 'My
dear fellow, never let your poor wife know what you're thinking
of! But I didn't follow his advice; not I! An eccentric man!
He would say to Phil: 'Whether you live like a gentleman or not,
my boy, be sure you die like one! and he had himself embalmed in
a frock coat suit, with a satin cravat and a diamond pin. Oh,
quite an original, I can assure you!"
Of Bosinney himself Baynes would speak warmly, with a certain
compassion: "He's got a streak of his father's Byronism. Why,
look at the way he threw up his chances when he left my office;
going off like that for six months with a knapsack, and all for
what?--to study foreign architecture--foreign! What could he
expect? And there he is--a clever young fellow--doesn't make his
hundred a year! Now this engagement is the best thing that could
have happened--keep him steady; he's one of those that go to bed
all day and stay up all night, simply because they've no method;
but no vice about him--not an ounce of vice. Old Forsyte's a
Mr. Baynes made himself extremely pleasant to June, who
frequently visited his house in Lowndes Square at this period.
"This house of your cousin's--what a capital man of business--is
the very thing for Philip," he would say to her; "you mustn't
expect to see too much of him just now, my dear young lady. The
good cause--the good cause! The young man must make his way.
When I was his age I was at work day and night. My dear wife
used to say to me, 'Bobby, don't work too hard, think of your
health'; but I never spared myself!"
June had complained that her lover found no time to come to
The first time he came again they had not been together a quarter
of an hour before, by one of those coincidences of which she was
a mistress, Mrs. Septimus Small arrived. Thereon Bosinney rose
and hid himself, according to previous arrangement, in the little
study, to wait for her departure.
"My dear," said Aunt Juley, "how thin he is! I've often noticed
it with engaged people; but you mustn't let it get worse.
There's Barlow's extract of veal; it did your Uncle Swithin a lot
June, her little figure erect before the hearth, her small face
quivering grimly, for she regarded her aunt's untimely visit in
the light of a personal injury, replied with scorn:
"It's because he's busy; people who can do anything worth doing
are never fat!"
Aunt Juley pouted; she herself had always been thin, but the only
pleasure she derived from the fact was the opportunity of longing
to be stouter.
"I don't think," she said mournfully, "that you ought to let them
call him 'The Buccaneer'; people might think it odd, now that
he's going to build a house for Soames. I do hope he will be
careful; it's so important for him. Soames has such good taste!"
"Taste!" cried June, flaring up at once; "wouldn't give that for
his taste, or any of the family's!"
Mrs. Small was taken aback.
"Your Uncle Swithin," she said, "always had beautiful taste! And
Soames's little house is lovely; you don't mean to say you don't
"H'mph!" said June, "that's only because Irene's there!"
Aunt Juley tried to say something pleasant:
"And how will dear Irene like living in the country?"
June gazed at her intently, with a look in her eyes as if her
conscience had suddenly leaped up into them; it passed; and an
even more intent look took its place, as if she had stared that
conscience out of countenance. She replied imperiously:
"Of course she'll like it; why shouldn't she?"
Mrs. Small grew nervous.
"I didn't know," she said; "I thought she mightn't like to leave
her friends. Your Uncle James says she doesn't take enough
interest in life. We think--I mean Timothy thinks--she ought to
go out more. I expect you'll miss her very much!"
June clasped her hands behind her neck.
"I do wish," she cried, "Uncle Timothy wouldn't talk about what
doesn't concern him!"
Aunt Juley rose to the full height of her tall figure.
"He never talks about what doesn't concern him," she said.
June was instantly compunctious; she ran to her aunt and kissed
"I'm very sorry, auntie; but I wish they'd let Irene alone."
Aunt Juley, unable to think of anything further on the subject
that would be suitable, was silent; she prepared for departure,
hooking her black silk cape across her chest, and, taking up her
"And how is your dear grandfather?" she asked in the hall, "I
expect he's very lonely now that all your time is taken up with
She bent and kissed her niece hungrily, and with little, mincing
steps passed away.
The tears sprang up in June's eyes; running into the little
study, where Bosinney was sitting at the table drawing birds on
the back of an envelope, she sank down by his side and cried:
"Oh, Phil! it's all so horrid!" Her heart was as warm as the
colour of her hair.
On the following Sunday morning, while Soames was shaving, a
message was brought him to the effect that Mr. Bosinney was
below, and would be glad to see him. Opening the door into his
wife's room, he said:
"Bosinney's downstairs. Just go and entertain him while I finish
shaving. I'll be down in a minute. It's about the plans, I
Irene looked at him, without reply, put the finishing touch to
her dress and went downstairs. He could not make her out about
this house. She had said nothing against it, and, as far as
Bosinney was concerned, seemed friendly enough.
From the window of his dressing-room he could see them talking
together in the little court below. He hurried on with his
shaving, cutting his chin twice. He heard them laugh, and
thought to himself: "Well, they get on all right, anyway!"
As he expected, Bosinney had come round to fetch him to look at
He took his hat and went over.
The plans were spread on the oak table in the architect's room;
and pale, imperturbable, inquiring, Soames bent over them for a
long time without speaking.
He said at last in a puzzled voice:
"It's an odd sort of house!"
A rectangular house of two stories was designed in a quadrangle
round a covered-in court. This court, encircled by a gallery on
the upper floor, was roofed with a glass roof, supported by eight
columns running up from the ground.
It was indeed, to Forsyte eyes, an odd house.
"There's a lot of room cut to waste," pursued Soames.
Bosinney began to walk about, and Soames did not like the
expression on his face.
"The principle of this house," said the architect, "was that you
should have room to breathe--like a gentleman!"
Soames extended his finger and thumb, as if measuring the extent
of the distinction he should acquire; and replied:
"Oh! yes; I see."
The peculiar look came into Bosinney's face which marked all his
"I've tried to plan you a house here with some self-respect of
its own. If you don't like it, you'd better say so. It's
certainly the last thing to be considered--who wants self-respect
in a house, when you can squeeze in an extra lavatory?" He put
his finger suddenly down on the left division of the centre
oblong: "You can swing a cat here. This is for your pictures,
divided from this court by curtains; draw them back and you'll
have a space of fifty-one by twenty-three six. This double-faced
stove in the centre, here, looks one way towards the court, one
way towards the picture room; this end wall is all window; You've
a southeast light from that, a north light from the court. The
rest of your pictures you can hang round the gallery upstairs, or
in the other rooms." "In architecture," he went on--and though
looking at Soames he did not seem to see him, which gave Soames
an unpleasant feeling--"as in life, you'll get no self-respect
without regularity. Fellows tell you that's old fashioned. It
appears to be peculiar any way; it never occurs to us to embody
the main principle of life in our buildings; we load our houses
with decoration, gimcracks, corners, anything to distract the
eye. On the contrary the eye should rest; get your effects with
a few strong lines. The whole thing is regularity there's no
self-respect without it."
Soames, the unconscious ironist, fixed his gaze on Bosinney's
tie, which was far from being in the perpendicular; he was
unshaven too, and his dress not remarkable for order.
Architecture appeared to have exhausted his regularity.
"Won't it look like a barrack?" he inquired.
He did not at once receive a reply.
"I can see what it is," said Bosinney, "you want one of Little-
master's houses--one of the pretty and commodious sort, where the
servants will live in garrets, and the front door be sunk so that
you may come up again. By all means try Littlemaster, you'll
find him a capital fellow, I've known him all my life!"
Soames was alarmed. He had really been struck by the plans, and
the concealment of his satisfaction had been merely instinctive.
It was difficult for him to pay a compliment. He despised people
who were lavish with their praises.
He found himself now in the embarrassing position of one who must
pay a compliment or run the risk of losing a good thing.
Bosinney was just the fellow who might tear up the plans and
refuse to act for him; a kind of grown-up child!
This grown-up childishness, to which he felt so superior,
exercised a peculiar and almost mesmeric effect on Soames, for he
had never felt anything like it in himself.
"Well," he stammered at last, "it's--it's, certainly original."
He had such a private distrust and even dislike of the word
'original' that he felt he had not really given himself away by
Bosinney seemed pleased. It was the sort of thing that would
please a fellow like that! And his success encouraged Soames.
"It's--a big place," he said.
"Space, air, light," he heard Bosinney murmur, "you can't live
like a gentleman in one of Littlemaster's--he builds for
Soames made a deprecating movement; he had been identified with a
gentleman; not for a good deal of money now would he be classed
with manufacturers. But his innate distrust of general
principles revived. What the deuce was the good of talking about
regularity and self-respect? It looked to him as if the house
would be cold.
"Irene can't stand the cold!" he said.
"Ah!" said Bosinney sarcastically. "Your wife? She doesn't like
the cold? I'll see to that; she shan't be cold. Look here!" he
pointed, to four marks at regular intervals on the walls of the
court. "I've given you hot-water pipes in aluminium casings; you
can get them with very good designs."
Soames looked suspiciously at these marks.
"It's all very well, all this," he said, "but what's it going to
The architect took a sheet of paper from his pocket:
"The house, of course, should be built entirely of stone, but, as
I thought you wouldn't stand that, I've compromised for a facing.
It ought to have a copper roof, but I've made it green slate. As
it is, including metal work, it'll cost you eight thousand five
"Eight thousand five hundred?" said Soames. "Why, I gave you an
outside limit of eight!"
"Can't be done for a penny less," replied Bosinney coolly.
"You must take it or leave it!"
It was the only way, probably, that such a proposition could have
been made to Soames. He was nonplussed. Conscience told him to
throw the whole thing up. But the design was good, and he knew
it--there was completeness about it, and dignity; the servants'
apartments were excellent too. He would gain credit by living in
a house like that--with such individual features, yet perfectly.
He continued poring over the plans, while Bosinney went into his
bedroom to shave and dress.
The two walked back to Montpellier Square in silence, Soames
watching him out of the corner of his eye.
The Buccaneer was rather a good-looking fellow--so he thought--
when he was properly got up.
Irene was bending over her flowers when the two men came in.
She spoke of sending across the Park to fetch June.
"No, no," said Soames, "we've still got business to talk over!"
At lunch he was almost cordial, and kept pressing Bosinney to
eat. He was pleased to see the architect in such high spirits,
and left him to spend the afternoon with Irene, while he stole
off to his pictures, after his Sunday habit. At tea-time he came
down to the drawing-room, and found them talking, as he expressed
it, nineteen to the dozen.
Unobserved in the doorway, he congratulated himself that things
were taking the right turn. It was lucky she and Bosinney got
on; she seemed to be falling into line with the idea of the new
Quiet meditation among his pictures had decided him to spring the
five hundred if necessary; but he hoped that the afternoon might
have softened Bosinney's estimates. It was so purely a matter
which Bosinney could remedy if he liked; there must be a dozen
ways in which he could cheapen the production of a house without
spoiling the effect.
He awaited, therefore, his opportunity till Irene was handing the
architect his first cup of tea. A chink of sunshine through the
lace of the blinds warmed her cheek, shone in the gold of her
hair, and in her soft eyes. Possibly the same gleam deepened
Bosinney's colour, gave the rather startled look to his face.
Soames hated sunshine, and he at once got up, to draw the blind.
Then he took his own cup of tea from his wife, and said, more
coldly than he had intended:
"Can't you see your way to do it for eight thousand after all?
There must be a lot of little things you could alter."
Bosinney drank off his tea at a gulp, put down his cup, and
Soames saw that his suggestion had touched some unintelligible
point of personal vanity.
"Well," he agreed, with sulky resignation; "you must have it your
own way, I suppose."
A few minutes later Bosinney rose to go, and Soames rose too, to
see him off the premises. The architect seemed in absurdly high
spirits. After watching him walk away at a swinging pace, Soames
returned moodily to the drawing-room, where Irene was putting
away the music, and, moved by an uncontrollable spasm of
curiosity, he asked:
"Well, what do you think of 'The Buccaneer'?"
He looked at the carpet while waiting for her answer, and he had
to wait some time.
"I don't know," she said at last.
"Do you think he's good-looking?"
Irene smiled. And it seemed to Soames that she was mocking him.
"Yes," she answered; "very."
DEATH OF AUNT ANN
There came a morning at the end of September when Aunt Ann was
unable to take from Smither's hands the insignia of personal
dignity. After one look at the old face, the doctor, hurriedly
sent for, announced that Miss Forsyte had passed away in her
Aunts Juley and Hester were overwhelmed by the shock. They had
never imagined such an ending. Indeed, it is doubtful whether
they had ever realized that an ending was bound to come.
Secretly they felt it unreasonable of Ann to have left them like
this without a word, without even a struggle. It was unlike her.
Perhaps what really affected them so profoundly was the thought
that a Forsyte should have let go her grasp on life. If one,
then why not all!
It was a full hour before they could make up their minds to tell
Timothy. If only it could be kept from him! If only it could be
broken to him by degrees!
And long they stood outside his door whispering together. And
when it was over they whispered together again.
He would feel it more, they were afraid, as time went on. Still,
he had taken it better than could have been expected. He would
keep his bed, of course!
They separated, crying quietly.
Aunt Juley stayed in her room, prostrated by the blow. Her face,
discoloured by tears, was divided into compartments by the little
ridges of pouting flesh which had swollen with emotion. It was
impossible to conceive of life without Ann, who had lived with
her for seventy-three years, broken only by the short interregnum
of her married life, which seemed now so unreal. At fixed
intervals she went to her drawer, and took from beneath the
lavender bags a fresh pocket-handkerchief. Her warm heart could
not bear the thought that Ann was lying there so cold.
Aunt Hester, the silent, the patient, that backwater of the
family energy, sat in the drawing-room, where the blinds were
drawn; and she, too, had wept at first, but quietly, without
visible effect. Her guiding principle, the conservation of
energy, did not abandon her in sorrow. She sat, slim,
motionless, studying the grate, her hands idle in the lap of her
black silk dress. They would want to rouse her into doing
something, no doubt. As if there were any good in that! Doing
something would not bring back Ann! Why worry her?
Five o'clock brought three of the brothers, Jolyon and James and
Swithin; Nicholas was at Yarmouth, and Roger had a bad attack of
gout. Mrs. Hayman had been by herself earlier in the day, and,
after seeing Ann, had gone away, leaving a message for Timothy--
which was kept from him--that she ought to have been told sooner.
In fact, there was a feeling amongst them all that they ought to
have been told sooner, as though they had missed something; and
"I knew how it'd be; I told you she wouldn't last through the
Aunt Hester made no reply; it was nearly October, but what was
the good of arguing; some people were never satisfied.
She sent up to tell her sister that the brothers were there.
Mrs. Small came down at once. She had bathed her face, which was
still swollen, and though she looked severely at Swithin's
trousers, for they were of light blue--he had come straight from
the club, where the news had reached him--she wore a more cheerful
expression than usual, the instinct for doing the wrong thing
being even now too strong for her.
Presently all five went up to look at the body. Under the pure
white sheet a quilted counter-pane had been placed, for now, more
than ever, Aunt Ann had need of warmth; and, the pillows removed,
her spine and head rested flat, with the semblance of their
life-long inflexibility; the coif banding the top of her brow was
drawn on either side to the level of the ears, and between it and
the sheet her face, almost as white, was turned with closed eyes
to the faces of her brothers and sisters. In its extraordinary
peace the face was stronger than ever, nearly all bone now under
the scarce-wrinkled parchment of skin--square jaw and chin,
cheekbones, forehead with hollow temples, chiselled nose--the
fortress of an unconquerable spirit that had yielded to death,
and in its upward sightlessness seemed trying to regain that
spirit, to regain the guardianship it had just laid down.
Swithin took but one look at the face, and left the room; the
sight, he said afterwards, made him very queer. He went
downstairs shaking the whole house, and, seizing his hat,
clambered into his brougham, without giving any directions to the
coachman. He was driven home, and all the evening sat in his
chair without moving.
He could take nothing for dinner but a partridge, with an
imperial pint of champagne....
Old Jolyon stood at the bottom of the bed, his hands folded in
front of him. He alone of those in the room remembered the death
of his mother, and though he looked at Ann, it was of that he was
thinking. Ann was an old woman, but death had come to her at
last--death came to all! His face did not move, his gaze seemed
travelling from very far.
Aunt Hester stood beside him. She did not cry now, tears were
exhausted--her nature refused to permit a further escape of
force; she twisted her hands, looking not at Ann, but from side
to side, seeking some way of escaping the effort of realization.
Of all the brothers and sisters James manifested the most
emotion. Tears rolled down the parallel furrows of his thin
face; where he should go now to tell his troubles he did not
know; Juley was no good, Hester worse than useless! He felt
Ann's death more than he had ever thought he should; this would
upset him for weeks!
Presently Aunt Hester stole out, and Aunt Juley began moving
about, doing 'what was necessary,' so that twice she knocked
against something. Old Jolyon, roused from his reverie, that
reverie of the long, long past, looked sternly at her, and went
away. James alone was left by the bedside; glancing stealthily
round, to see that he was not observed, he twisted his long body
down, placed a kiss on the dead forehead, then he, too, hastily
left the room. Encountering Smither in the hall, he began to ask
her about the funeral, and, finding that she knew nothing,
complained bitterly that, if they didn't take care, everything
would go wrong. She had better send for Mr. Soames--he knew all
about that sort of thing; her master was very much upset, he
supposed--he would want looking after; as for her mistresses,
they were no good--they had no gumption! They would be ill too,
he shouldn't wonder. She had better send for the doctor; it was
best to take things in time. He didn't think his sister Ann had
had the best opinion; if she'd had Blank she would have been
alive now. Smither might send to Park Lane any time she wanted
advice. Of course, his carriage was at their service for the
funeral. He supposed she hadn't such a thing as a glass of
claret and a biscuit--he had had no lunch!
The days before the funeral passed quietly. It had long been
known, of course, that Aunt Ann had left her little property to
Timothy. There was, therefore, no reason for the slightest
agitation. Soames, who was sole executor, took charge of all
arrangements, and in due course sent out the following invitation
to every male member of the family:
Your presence is requested at the funeral of Miss Ann Forsyte, in
Highgate Cemetery, at noon of Oct. 1st. Carriages will meet at
"The Bower," Bayswater Road, at 10.45. No flowers by request.
The morning came, cold, with a high, grey, London sky, and at
half-past ten the first carriage, that of James, drove up. It
contained James and his son-in-law Dartie, a fine man, with a
square chest, buttoned very tightly into a frock coat, and a
sallow, fattish face adorned with dark, well-curled moustaches,
and that incorrigible commencement of whisker which, eluding the
strictest attempts at shaving, seems the mark of something deeply
ingrained in the personality of the shaver, being especially
noticeable in men who speculate.
Soames, in his capacity of executor, received the guests, for
Timothy still kept his bed; he would get up after the funeral;
and Aunts Juley and Hester would not be coming down till all was
over, when it was understood there would be lunch for anyone who
cared to come back. The next to arrive was Roger, still limping
from the gout, and encircled by three of his sons--young Roger,
Eustace, and Thomas. George, the remaining son, arrived almost
immediately afterwards in a hansom, and paused in the hall to ask
Soames how he found undertaking pay.
They disliked each other.
Then came two Haymans--Giles and Jesse perfectly silent, and very
well dressed, with special creases down their evening trousers.
Then old Jolyon alone. Next, Nicholas, with a healthy colour in
his face, and a carefully veiled sprightliness in every movement
of his head and body. One of his sons followed him, meek and
subdued. Swithin Forsyte, and Bosinney arrived at the same
moment,--and stood--bowing precedence to each other,--but on the
door opening they tried to enter together; they renewed their
apologies in the hall, and, Swithin, settling his stock, which
had become disarranged in the struggle, very slowly mounted the
stairs. The other Hayman; two married sons of Nicholas, together
with Tweetyman, Spender, and Warry, the husbands of married
Forsyte and Hayman daughters. The company was then complete,
twenty-one in all, not a male member of the family being absent
but Timothy and young Jolyon.
Entering the scarlet and green drawing-room, whose apparel made
so vivid a setting for their unaccustomed costumes, each tried
nervously to find a seat, desirous of hiding the emphatic
blackness of his trousers. There seemed a sort of indecency in
that blackness and in the colour of their gloves--a sort of
exaggeration of the feelings; and many cast shocked looks of
secret envy at 'the Buccaneer,' who had no gloves, and was
wearing grey trousers. A subdued hum of conversation rose, no
one speaking of the departed, but each asking after the other, as
though thereby casting an indirect libation to this event, which
they had come to honour.
And presently James said:
"Well, I think we ought to be starting."
They went downstairs, and, two and two, as they had been told off
in strict precedence, mounted the carriages.
The hearse started at a foot's pace; the carriages moved slowly
after. In the first went old Jolyon with Nicholas; in the
second, the twins, Swithin and James; in the third, Roger and
young Roger; Soames, young Nicholas, George, and Bosinney
followed in the fourth. Each of the other carriages, eight in
all, held three or four of the family; behind them came the
doctor's brougham; then, at a decent interval, cabs containing
family clerks and servants; and at the very end, one containing
nobody at all, but bringing the total cortege up to the number of
So long as the procession kept to the highway of the Bayswater
Road, it retained the foot's-pace, but, turning into less
important thorough-fares, it soon broke into a trot, and so
proceeded, with intervals of walking in the more fashionable
streets, until it arrived. In the first carriage old Jolyon and
Nicholas were talking of their wills. In the second the twins,
after a single attempt, had lapsed into complete silence; both
were rather deaf, and the exertion of making themselves heard was
too great. Only once James broke this silence:
"I shall have to be looking about for some ground somewhere.
What arrangements have you made, Swithin?"
And Swithin, fixing him with a dreadful stare, answered:
"Don't talk to me about such things!"
In the third carriage a disjointed conversation was carried on in
the intervals of looking out to see how far they had got, George
remarking, "Well, it was really time that the poor old lady
went." He didn't believe in people living beyond seventy, Young
Nicholas replied mildly that the rule didn't seem to apply to the
Forsytes. George said he himself intended to commit suicide at
sixty. Young Nicholas, smiling and stroking a long chin, didn't
think his father would like that theory; he had made a lot of
money since he was sixty. Well, seventy was the outside limit;
it was then time, George said, for them to go and leave their
money to their children. Soames, hitherto silent, here joined
in; he had not forgotten the remark about the 'undertaking,' and,
lifting his eyelids almost imperceptibly, said it was all very
well for people who never made money to talk. He himself
intended to live as long as he could. This was a hit at George,
who was notoriously hard up. Bosinney muttered abstractedly
"Hear, hear!" and, George yawning, the conversation dropped.
Upon arriving, the coffin was borne into the chapel, and, two by
two, the mourners filed in behind it. This guard of men, all
attached to the dead by the bond of kinship, was an impressive
and singular sight in the great city of London, with its
overwhelming diversity of life, its innumerable vocations,
pleasures, duties, its terrible hardness, its terrible call to
The family had gathered to triumph over all this, to give a show
of tenacious unity, to illustrate gloriously that law of property
underlying the growth of their tree, by which it had thriven and
spread, trunk and branches, the sap flowing through all, the full
growth reached at the appointed time. The spirit of the old
woman lying in her last sleep had called them to this
demonstration. It was her final appeal to that unity which had
been their strength--it was her final triumph that she had died
while the tree was yet whole.
She was spared the watching of the branches jut out beyond the
point of balance. She could not look into the hearts of her
followers. The same law that had worked in her, bringing her up
from a tall, straight-backed slip of a girl to a woman strong
and grown, from a woman grown to a woman old, angular, feeble,
almost witchlike, with individuality all sharpened and sharpened,
as all rounding from the world's contact fell off from her--that
same law would work, was working, in the family she had watched
like a mother.
She had seen it young, and growing, she had seen it strong and
grown, and before her old eyes had time or strength to see any
more, she died. She would have tried, and who knows but she
might have kept it young and strong, with her old fingers, her
trembling kisses--a little longer; alas! not even Aunt Ann could
fight with Nature.
'Pride comes before a fall!' In accordance with this, the
greatest of Nature's ironies, the Forsyte family had gathered for
a last proud pageant before they fell. Their faces to right and
left, in single lines, were turned for the most part impassively
toward the ground, guardians of their thoughts; but here and
there, one looking upward, with a line between his brows,
searched to see some sight on the chapel walls too much for him,
to be listening to something that appalled. And the responses,
low-muttered, in voices through which rose the same tone, the
same unseizable family ring, sounded weird, as though murmured in
hurried duplication by a single person.
The service in the chapel over, the mourners filed up again to
guard the body to the tomb. The vault stood open, and, round it,
men in black were waiting.
From that high and sacred field, where thousands of the upper
middle class lay in their last sleep, the eyes of the Forsytes
travelled down across the flocks of graves. There--spreading to
the distance, lay London, with no sun over it, mourning the loss
of its daughter, mourning with this family, so dear, the loss of
her who was mother and guardian. A hundred thousand spires and
houses, blurred in the great grey web of property, lay there like
prostrate worshippers before the grave of this, the oldest
Forsyte of them all.
A few words, a sprinkle of earth, the thrusting of the coffin
home, and Aunt Ann had passed to her last rest.
Round the vault, trustees of that passing, the five brothers
stood, with white heads bowed; they would see that Ann was
comfortable where she was going. Her little property must stay
behind, but otherwise, all that could be should be done....
Then severally, each stood aside, and putting on his hat, turned
back to inspect the new inscription on the marble of the family
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF ANN FORSYTE,
THE DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE JOLYON
AND ANN FORSYTE, WHO DEPARTED
THIS LIFE THE 27TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER,
1886, AGED EIGHTY-SEVEN YEARS AND FOUR DAYS
Soon perhaps, someone else would be wanting an inscription. It
was strange and intolerable, for they had not thought somehow,
that Forsytes could die. And one and all they had a longing to
get away from this painfulness, this ceremony which had reminded
them of things they could not bear to think about--to get away
quickly and go about their business and forget.
It was cold, too; the wind, like some slow, disintegrating force,
blowing up the hill over the graves, struck them with its chilly
breath; they began to split into groups, and as quickly as
possible to fill the waiting carriages.
Swithin said he should go back to lunch at Timothy's, and he
offered to take anybody with him in his brougham. It was
considered a doubtful privilege to drive with Swithin in his
brougham, which was not a large one; nobody accepted, and he went
off alone. James and Roger followed immediately after; they also
would drop in to lunch. The others gradually melted away, Old
Jolyon taking three nephews to fill up his carriage; he had a
want of those young faces.
Soames, who had to arrange some details in the cemetery office,
walked away with Bosinney. He had much to talk over with him,
and, having finished his business, they strolled to Hampstead,
lunched together at the Spaniard's Inn, and spent a long time in
going into practical details connected with the building of the
house; they then proceeded to the tram-line, and came as far as
the Marble Arch, where Bosinney went off to Stanhope Gate to see
Soames felt in excellent spirits when he arrived home, and
confided to Irene at dinner that he had had a good talk with
Bosinney, who really seemed a sensible fellow; they had had a
capital walk too, which had done his liver good--he had been
short of exercise for a long time--and altogether a very
satisfactory day. If only it hadn't been for poor Aunt Ann, he
would have taken her to the theatre; as it was, they must make
the best of an evening at home.
"The Buccaneer asked after you more than once," he said
suddenly. And moved by some inexplicable desire to assert his
proprietorship, he rose from his chair and planted a kiss on
his wife's shoulder.
PROGRESS OF THE HOUSE
The winter had been an open one. Things in the trade were slack;
and as Soames had reflected before making up his mind, it had
been a good time for building. The shell of the house at Robin
Hill was thus completed by the end of April.
Now that there was something to be seen for his money, he had
been coming down once, twice, even three times a week, and would
mouse about among the debris for hours, careful never to soil his
clothes, moving silently through the unfinished brickwork of
doorways, or circling round the columns in the central court.
And he would stand before them for minutes' together, as though
peering into the real quality of their substance
On April 30 he had an appointment with Bosinney to go over the
accounts, and five minutes before the proper time he entered the
tent which the architect had pitched for himself close to the old
The accounts were already prepared on a folding table, and with
a nod Soames sat down to study them. It was some time before he
raised his head.
"I can't make them out," he said at last; "they come to nearly
seven hundred more than they ought"
After a glance at Bosinney's face he went on quickly:
"If you only make a firm stand against these builder chaps you'll
get them down. They stick you with everything if you don't look
sharp.... Take ten per cent. off all round. I shan't mind it's
coming out a hundred or so over the mark!"
Bosinney shook his head:
"I've taken off every farthing I can!"
Soames pushed back the table with a movement of anger, which sent
the account sheets fluttering to the ground.
"Then all I can say is," he flustered out, "you've made a pretty
mess of it!"
"I've told you a dozen times," Bosinney answered sharply, "that
there'd be extras. I've pointed them out to you over and over
"I know that," growled Soames: "I shouldn't have objected to a ten
pound note here and there. How was I to know that by 'extras'
you meant seven hundred pounds?"
The qualities of both men had contributed to this notinconsider-
able discrepancy. On the one hand, the architect's devotion
to his idea, to the image of a house which he had created and
believed in--had made him nervous of being stopped, or forced
to the use of makeshifts; on the other, Soames' not less true
and wholehearted devotion to the very best article that could be
obtained for the money, had rendered him averse to believing that
things worth thirteen shillings could not be bought with twelve.
I wish I'd never undertaken your house," said Bosinney suddenly.
"You come down here worrying me out of my life. You want double
the value for your money anybody else would, and now that you've
got a house that for its size is not to be beaten in the county,
you don't want to pay for it. If you're anxious to be off your
bargain, I daresay I can find the balance above the estimates
myself, but I'm d----d if I do another stroke of work for you!"
Soames regained his composure. Knowing that Bosinney had no
capital, he regarded this as a wild suggestion. He saw, too,
that he would be kept indefinitely out of this house on which he
had set his heart, and just at the crucial point when the
architect's personal care made all the difference. In the
meantime there was Irene to be thought of! She had been very
queer lately. He really believed it was only because she had
taken to Bosinney that she tolerated the idea of the house at
all. It would not do to make an open breach with her.
"You needn't get into a rage," he said. "If I'm willing to put
up with it, I suppose you needn't cry out. All I meant was that
when you tell me a thing is going to cost so much, I like to--
well, in fact, I--like to know where I am."
"Look here!" said Bosinney, and Soames was both annoyed and
surprised by the shrewdness of his glance. "You've got my
services dirt cheap. For the kind of work I've put into this
house, and the amount of time I've given to it, you'd have had to
pay Littlemaster or some other fool four times as much. What you
want, in fact, is a first-rate man for a fourth-rate fee, and
that's exactly what you've got!"
Soames saw that he really meant what he said, and, angry though
he was, the consequences of a row rose before him too vividly.
He saw his house unfinished, his wife rebellious, himself a
"Let's go over it," he said sulkily, "and see how the money's
"Very well," assented Bosinney. "But we'll hurry up, if you
don't mind. I have to get back in time to take June to the
Soames cast a stealthy look at him, and said: "Coming to our
place, I suppose to meet her?" He was always coming to their
There had been rain the night before-a spring rain, and the earth
smelt of sap and wild grasses. The warm, soft breeze swung the
leaves and the golden buds of the old oak tree, and in the
sunshine the blackbirds were whistling their hearts out.
It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable
yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand
motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his
arms to embrace he knows not what. The earth gave forth a
fainting warmth, stealing up through the chilly garment in which
winter had wrapped her. It was her long caress of invitation, to
draw men down to lie within her arms, to roll their bodies on
her, and put their lips to her breast.
On just such a day as this Soames had got from Irene the promise
he had asked her for so often. Seated on the fallen trunk of a
tree, he had promised for the twentieth time that if their
marriage were not a success, she should be as free as if she had
never married him!
"Do you swear it?" she had said. A few days back she had
reminded him of that oath. He had answered: "Nonsense! I
couldn't have sworn any such thing!" By some awkward fatality he
remembered it now. What queer things men would swear for the
sake of women! He would have sworn it at any time to gain her!
He would swear it now, if thereby he could touch her--but nobody
could touch her, she was cold-hearted!
And memories crowded on him with the fresh, sweet savour of the
spring wind-memories of his courtship.
In the spring of the year 1881 he was visiting his old school-
fellow and client, George Liversedge, of Branksome, who, with
the view of developing his pine-woods in the neighbourhood of
Bournemouth, had placed the formation of the company necessary
to the scheme in Soames's hands. Mrs. Liversedge, with a sense
of the fitness of things, had given a musical tea in his honour.
Later in the course of this function, which Soames, no musician,
had regarded as an unmitigated bore, his eye had been caught by
the face of a girl dressed in mourning, standing by herself. The
lines of her tall, as yet rather thin figure, showed through the
wispy, clinging stuff of her black dress, her black-gloved hands
were crossed in front of her, her lips slightly parted, and her
large, dark eyes wandered from face to face. Her hair, done low
on her neck, seemed to gleam above her black collar like coils of
shining metal. And as Soames stood looking at her, the sensation
that most men have felt at one time or another went stealing
through him--a peculiar satisfaction of the senses, a peculiar
certainty, which novelists and old ladies call love at first
sight. Still stealthily watching her, he at once made his way to
his hostess, and stood doggedly waiting for the music to cease.
"Who is that girl with yellow hair and dark eyes?" he asked.
"That--oh! Irene Heron. Her father, Professor Heron, died this
year. She lives with her stepmother. She's a nice girl, a
pretty girl, but no money!"
"Introduce me, please," said Soames.
It was very little that he found to say, nor did he find her
responsive to that little. But he went away with the resolution
to see her again. He effected his object by chance, meeting her
on the pier with her stepmother, who had the habit of walking
there from twelve to one of a forenoon. Soames made this lady's
acquaintance with alacrity, nor was it long before he perceived
in her the ally he was looking for. His keen scent for the
commercial side of family life soon told him that Irene cost her
stepmother more than the fifty pounds a year she brought her; it
also told him that Mrs. Heron, a woman yet in the prime of life,
desired to be married again. The strange ripening beauty of her
stepdaughter stood in the way of this desirable consummation.
And Soames, in his stealthy tenacity, laid his plans.
He left Bournemouth without having given himself away, but in a
month's time came back, and this time he spoke, not to the girl,
but to her stepmother. He had made up his mind, he said; he
would wait any time. And he had long to wait, watching Irene
bloom, the lines of her young figure softening, the stronger
blood deepening the gleam of her eyes, and warming her face to a
creamy glow; and at each visit he proposed to her, and when that
visit was at an end, took her refusal away with him, back to
London, sore at heart, but steadfast and silent as the grave. He
tried to come at the secret springs of her resistance; only once
had he a gleam of light. It was at one of those assembly dances,
which afford the only outlet to the passions of the population of
seaside watering-places. He was sitting with her in an
embrasure, his senses tingling with the contact of the waltz.
She had looked at him over her, slowly waving fan; and he had
lost his head. Seizing that moving wrist, he pressed his lips to
the flesh of her arm. And she had shuddered--to this day he had
not forgotten that shudder--nor the look so passionately averse
she had given him.
A year after that she had yielded. What had made her yield he
could never make out; and from Mrs. Heron, a woman of some
diplomatic talent, he learnt nothing. Once after they were
married he asked her, "What made you refuse me so often?" She had
answered by a strange silence. An enigma to him from the day
that he first saw her, she was an enigma to him still....
Bosinney was waiting for him at the door; and on his rugged,
good-looking, face was a queer, yearning, yet happy look, as
though he too saw a promise of bliss in the spring sky, sniffed a
coming happiness in the spring air. Soames looked at him waiting
there. What was the matter with the fellow that he looked so
happy? What was he waiting for with that smile on his lips and
in his eyes? Soames could not see that for which Bosinney was
waiting as he stood there drinking in the flower-scented wind.
And once more he felt baffled in the presence of this man whom by
habit he despised. He hastened on to the house.
"The only colour for those tiles," he heard Bosinney say,--"is
ruby with a grey tint in the stuff, to give a transparent effect.
I should like Irene's opinion. I'm ordering the purple leather
curtains for the doorway of this court; and if you distemper the
drawing-room ivory cream over paper, you'll get an illusive look.
You want to aim all through the decorations at what I call
Soames said: "You mean that my wife has charm!"
Bosinney evaded the question.
"You should have a clump of iris plants in the centre of that
Soames smiled superciliously.
"I'll look into Beech's some time," he said, "and see what's
They found little else to say to each other, but on the way to
the Station Soames asked:
"I suppose you find Irene very artistic."
"Yes." The abrupt answer was as distinct a snub as saying: "If
you want to discuss her you can do it with someone else!"
And the slow, sulky anger Soames had felt all the afternoon
burned the brighter within him.
Neither spoke again till they were close to the Station, then
"When do you expect to have finished?"
"By the end of June, if you really wish me to decorate as well."
Soames nodded. "But you quite understand," he said, "that the
house is costing me a lot beyond what I contemplated. I may as
well tell you that I should have thrown it up, only I'm not in
the habit of giving up what I've set my mind on."
Bosinney made no reply. And Soames gave him askance a look of
dogged dislike--for in spite of his fastidious air and that
supercilious, dandified taciturnity, Soames, with his set lips
and squared chin, was not unlike a bulldog....
When, at seven o'clock that evening, June arrived at 62,
Montpellier Square, the maid Bilson told her that Mr. Bosinney
was in the drawing-room; the mistress--she said--was dressing,
and would be down in a minute. She would tell her that Miss June
June stopped her at once.
"All right, Bilson," she said, "I'll just go in. You, needn't
hurry Mrs. Soames."
She took off her cloak, and Bilson, with an understanding look,
did not even open the drawing-room door for her, but ran
June paused for a moment to look at herself in the little
old-fashioned silver mirror above the oaken rug chest--a slim,
imperious young figure, with a small resolute face, in a white
frock, cut moon-shaped at the base of a neck too slender for her
crown of twisted red-gold hair.
She opened the drawing-room door softly, meaning to take him by
surprise. The room was filled with a sweet hot scent of
She took a long breath of the perfume, and heard Bosinney's
voice, not in the room, but quite close, saying.
"Ah! there were such heaps of things I wanted to talk about, and
now we shan't have time!"
Irene's voice answered: "Why not at dinner?"
"How can one talk...."
June's first thought was to go away, but instead she crossed to
the long window opening on the little court. It was from there
that the scent of the azaleas came, and, standing with their
backs to her, their faces buried in the goldenpink blossoms,
stood her lover and Irene.
Silent but unashamed, with flaming cheeks and angry eyes, the
"Come on Sunday by yourself--We can go over the house together."
June saw Irene look up at him through her screen of blossoms. It
was not the look of a coquette, but--far worse to the watching
girl--of a woman fearful lest that look should say too much.
"I've promised to go for a drive with Uncle...."
"The big one! Make him bring you; it's only ten miles--the very
thing for his horses."
"Poor old Uncle Swithin!"
A wave of the azalea scent drifted into June's face; she felt
sick and dizzy.
"Do! ah! do!"
"I must see you there--I thought you'd like to help me...."
The answer seemed to the girl to come softly with a tremble from
amongst the blossoms: "So I do!"
And she stepped into the open space of the window.
"How stuffy it is here!" she said; "I can't bear this scent!"
Her eyes, so angry and direct, swept both their faces.
"Were you talking about the house? I haven't seen it yet, you
know--shall we all go on Sunday?"'
From Irene's face the colour had flown.
"I am going for a drive that day with Uncle Swithin," she
"Uncle Swithin! What does he matter? You can throw him over!"
"I am not in the habit of throwing people over!"
There was a sound of footsteps and June saw Soames standing just
"Well! if you are all ready," said Irene, looking from one to
the other with a strange smile, "dinner is too!"
Dinner began in silence; the women facing one another, and the
In silence the soup was finished--excellent, if a little thick;
and fish was brought. In silence it was handed.
Bosinney ventured: "It's the first spring day."
Irene echoed softly: "Yes--the first spring day."
"Spring!" said June: "there isn't a breath of air!" No one
The fish was taken away, a fine fresh sole from Dover. And
Bilson brought champagne, a bottle swathed around the neck with
Soames said: "You'll find it dry."
Cutlets were handed, each pink-frilled about the legs. They were
refused by June, and silence fell.
Soames said: "You'd better take a cutlet, June; there's nothing
But June again refused, so they were borne away. And then Irene
asked: "Phil, have you heard my blackbird?"
Bosinney answered: "Rather--he's got a hunting-song. As I came
round I heard him in the Square."
"He's such a darling!"
"Salad, sir?" Spring chicken was removed.
But Soames was speaking: "The asparagus is very poor. Bosinney,
glass of sherry with your sweet? June, you're drinking nothing!"
June said: "You know I never do. Wine's such horrid stuff!"
An apple charlotte came upon a silver dish, and smilingly Irene
said: "The azaleas are so wonderful this year!"
To this Bosinney murmured: "Wonderful! The scent's
June said: "How can you like the scent? Sugar, please, Bilson."
Sugar was handed her, and Soames remarked: "This charlottes
The charlotte was removed. Long silence followed. Irene,
beckoning, said: "Take out the azalea, Bilson. Miss June can't
bear the scent."
"No; let it stay," said June.
Olives from France, with Russian caviare, were placed on little
plates. And Soames remarked: "Why can't we have the Spanish?"
But no one answered.
The olives were removed. Lifting her tumbler June demanded:
"Give me some water, please." Water was given her. A silver tray
was brought, with German plums. There was a lengthy pause. In
perfect harmony all were eating them.
Bosinney counted up the stones: "This year--next year--some time."
Irene finished softly: "Never! There was such a glorious sunset.
The sky's all ruby still--so beautiful!"
He answered: "Underneath the dark."
Their eyes had met, and June cried scornfully: "A London sunset!"
Egyptian cigarettes were handed in a silver box. Soames, taking
one, remarked: "What time's your play begin?"
No one replied, and Turkish coffee followed in enamelled cups.
Irene, smiling quietly, said: "If only...."
"Only what?" said June.
"If only it could always be the spring!"
Brandy was handed; it was pale and old.
Soames said: "Bosinney, better take some brandy."
Bosinney took a glass; they all arose.
"You want a cab?" asked Soames.
June answered: "No! My cloaks please, Bilson." Her cloak was
Irene, from the window, murmured: "Such a lovely night! The
stars are coming out!"
Soames added: "Well, I hope you'll both enjoy yourselves."
From the door June answered: "Thanks. Come, Phil."
Bosinney cried: "I'm coming."
Soames smiled a sneering smile, and said: "I wish you luck!"
And at the door Irene watched them go.
Bosinney called: "Good night!"
"Good night!" she answered softly....
June made her lover take her on the top of a 'bus, saying she
wanted air, and there sat silent, with her face to the breeze.
The driver turned once or twice, with the intention of venturing
a remark, but thought better of it. They were a lively couple!
The spring had got into his blood, too; he felt the need for
letting steam escape, and clucked his tongue, flourishing his
whip, wheeling his horses, and even they, poor things, had
smelled the spring, and for a brief half-hour spurned the
pavement with happy hoofs.
The whole town was alive; the boughs, curled upward with their
decking of young leaves, awaited some gift the breeze could
bring. New-lighted lamps were gaining mastery, and the faces of
the crowd showed pale under that glare, while on high the great
white clouds slid swiftly, softly, over the purple sky.
Men in, evening dress had thrown back overcoats, stepping
jauntily up the steps of Clubs; working folk loitered; and women-
-those women who at that time of night are solitary--solitary and
moving eastward in a stream--swung slowly along, with expectation
in their gait, dreaming of good wine and a good supper, or--for
an unwonted minute, of kisses given for love.
Those countless figures, going their ways under the lamps and the
moving-sky, had one and all received some restless blessing from
the stir of spring. And one and all, like those clubmen with
their opened coats, had shed something of caste, and creed, and
custom, and by the cock of their hats, the pace of their walk,
their laughter, or their silence, revealed their common kinship
under the passionate heavens.
Bosinney and June entered the theatre in silence, and mounted to
their seats in the upper boxes. The piece had just begun, and
the half-darkened house, with its rows of creatures peering all
one way, resembled a great garden of flowers turning their faces
to the sun.
June had never before been in the upper boxes. From the age of
fifteen she had habitually accompanied her grandfather to the
stalls, and not common stalls, but the best seats in the house,
towards the centre of the third row, booked by old Jolyon, at
Grogan and Boyne's, on his way home from the City, long before
the day; carried in his overcoat pocket, together with his
cigarcase and his old kid gloves, and handed to June to keep till
the appointed night. And in those stalls--an erect old figure
with a serene white head, a little figure, strenuous and eager,
with a red-gold head--they would sit through every kind of play,
and on the way home old Jolyon would say of the principal actor:
"Oh, he's a poor stick! You should have seen little Bobson!"
She had looked forward to this evening with keen delight; it was
stolen, chaperone-less, undreamed of at Stanhope Gate, where she
was supposed to be at Soames'. She had expected reward for her
subterfuge, planned for her lover's sake; she had expected it to
break up the thick, chilly cloud, and make the relations between
them which of late had been so puzzling, so tormenting--sunny and
simple again as they had been before the winter. She had come
with the intention of saying something definite; and she looked
at the stage with a furrow between her brows, seeing nothing, her
hands squeezed together in her lap. A swarm of jealous
suspicions stung and stung her.
If Bosinney was conscious of her trouble he made no sign.
The curtain dropped. The first act had come to an end.
"It's awfully hot here!" said the girl; "I should like to go
She was very white, and she knew--for with her nerves thus
sharpened she saw everything--that he was both uneasy and
At the back of the theatre an open balcony hung over the street;
she took possession of this, and stood leaning there without a
word, waiting for him to begin.
At last she could bear it no longer.
"I want to say something to you, Phil," she said.
The defensive tone of his voice brought the colour flying to her
cheek, the words flying to her lips: "You don't give me a chance
to be nice to you; you haven't for ages now!"
Bosinney stared down at the street. He made no answer....
June cried passionately: "You know I want to do everything for
you--that I want to be everything to you...."
A hum rose from the street, and, piercing it with a sharp
'ping,' the bell sounded for the raising of the curtain. June did
not stir. A desperate struggle was going on within her. Should
she put everything to the proof? Should she challenge directly
that influence, that attraction which was driving him away from
her? It was her nature to challenge, and she said: "Phil, take
me to see the house on Sunday!"
With a smile quivering and breaking on her lips, and trying, how
hard, not to show that she was watching, she searched his face,
saw it waver and hesitate, saw a troubled line come between his
brows, the blood rush into his face. He answered: "Not Sunday,
dear; some other day!"
"Why not Sunday? I shouldn't be in the way on Sunday."
He made an evident effort, and said: "I have an engagement."
"You are going to take...."
His eyes grew angry; he shrugged his shoulders, and answered: "An
engagement that will prevent my taking you to see the house!"
June bit her lip till the blood came, and walked back to her seat
without another word, but she could not help the tears of rage
rolling down her face. The house had been mercifully darkened
for a crisis, and no one could see her trouble.
Yet in this world of Forsytes let no man think himself immune
In the third row behind, Euphemia, Nicholas's youngest daughter,
with her married-sister, Mrs. Tweetyman, were watching.
They reported at Timothy's, how they had seen June and her fiance
at the theatre.
"In the stalls?" "No, not in the...." "Oh! in the dress
circle, of course. That seemed to be quite fashionable nowadays
with young people!"
Well--not exactly. In the.... Anyway, that engagement wouldn't
last long. They had never seen anyone look so thunder and
lightningy as that little June! With tears of enjoyment in their
eyes, they related how she had kicked a man's hat as she returned
to her seat in the middle of an act, and how the man had looked.
Euphemia had a noted, silent laugh, terminating most disappoint-
ingly in squeaks; and when Mrs. Small, holding up her hands, said:
"My dear! Kicked a ha-at?" she let out such a number of these that
she had to be recovered with smelling-salts. As she went away
she said to Mrs. Tweetyman:
"Kicked a--ha-at! Oh! I shall die."
For 'that little June' this evening, that was to have been 'her
treat,' was the most miserable she had ever spent. God knows she
tried to stifle her pride, her suspicion, her jealousy!
She parted from Bosinney at old Jolyon's door without breaking
down; the feeling that her lover must be conquered was strong
enough to sustain her till his retiring footsteps brought home
the true extent of her wretchedness.
The noiseless 'Sankey' let her in. She would have slipped up to
her own room, but old Jolyon, who had heard her entrance, was in
the dining-room doorway.
"Come in and have your milk," he said. "It's been kept hot for
you. You're very late. Where have you been?"
June stood at the fireplace, with a foot on the fender and an arm
on the mantelpiece, as her grandfather had done when he came in
that night of the opera. She was too near a breakdown to care
what she told him.
"We dined at Soames's."
"H'm! the man of property! His wife there and Bosinney?"
Old Jolyon's glance was fixed on her with the penetrating gaze
from which it was difficult to hide; but she was not looking at
him, and when she turned her face, he dropped his scrutiny at
once. He had seen enough, and too much. He bent down to lift
the cup of milk for her from the hearth, and, turning away,
grumbled: "You oughtn't to stay out so late; it makes you fit for
He was invisible now behind his paper, which he turned with a
vicious crackle; but when June came up to kiss him, he said:
"Good-night, my darling," in a tone so tremulous and unexpected,
that it was all the girl could do to get out of the room without
breaking into the fit of sobbing which lasted her well on into
When the door was closed, old Jolyon dropped his paper, and
stared long and anxiously in front of him.
'The beggar!' he thought. 'I always knew she'd have trouble with
Uneasy doubts and suspicions, the more poignant that he felt
himself powerless to check or control the march of events, came
crowding upon him.
Was the fellow going to jilt her? He longed to go and say to
him: "Look here, you sir! Are you going to jilt my grand-
daughter?" But how could he? Knowing little or nothing, he
was yet certain, with his unerring astuteness, that there was
something going on. He suspected Bosinney of being too much at
'This fellow,' he thought, 'may not be a scamp; his face is not a
bad one, but he's a queer fish. I don't know what to make of
him. I shall never know what to make of him! They tell me he
works like a nigger, but I see no good coming of it. He's
unpractical, he has no method. When he comes here, he sits as
glum as a monkey. If I ask him what wine he'll have, he says:
"Thanks, any wine." If I offer him a cigar, he smokes it as if it
were a twopenny German thing. I never see him looking at June as
he ought to look at her; and yet, he's not after her money. If
she were to make a sign, he'd be off his bargain to-morrow. But
she won't--not she! She'll stick to him! She's as obstinate as
fate--She'll never let go!'
Sighing deeply, he turned the paper; in its columns, perchance he
might find consolation.
And upstairs in her room June sat at her open window, where the
spring wind came, after its revel across the Park, to cool her
hot cheeks and burn her heart.
DRIVE WITH SWITHIN
Two lines of a certain song in a certain famous old school's
songbook run as follows:
'How the buttons on his blue frock shone, tra-la-la!
How he carolled and he sang, like a bird!....'
Swithin did not exactly carol and sing like a bird, but he felt
almost like endeavouring to hum a tune, as he stepped out of Hyde
Park Mansions, and contemplated his horses drawn up before the
The afternoon was as balmy as a day in June, and to complete the
simile of the old song, he had put on a blue frock-coat,
dispensing with an overcoat, after sending Adolf down three times
to make sure that there was not the least suspicion of east in
the wind; and the frock-coat was buttoned so tightly around his
personable form, that, if the buttons did not shine, they might
pardonably have done so. Majestic on the pavement he fitted on a
pair of dog-skin gloves; with his large bell-shaped top hat, and
his great stature and bulk he looked too primeval for a Forsyte.
His thick white hair, on which Adolf had bestowed a touch of
pomatum, exhaled the fragrance of opoponax and cigars--the
celebrated Swithin brand, for which he paid one hundred and
forty shillings the hundred, and of which old Jolyon had unkindly
said, he wouldn't smoke them as a gift; they wanted the stomach
of a horse!
"The new plaid rug!"
He would never teach that fellow to look smart; and Mrs. Soames
he felt sure, had an eye!
"The phaeton hood down; I am going--to--drive--a--lady!"
A pretty woman would want to show off her frock; and well--he was
going to drive a lady! It was like a new beginning to the good
Ages since he had driven a woman! The last time, if he
remembered, it had been Juley; the poor old soul had been as
nervous as a cat the whole time, and so put him out of patience
that, as he dropped her in the Bayswater Road, he had said: "Well
I'm d---d if I ever drive you again!" And he never had, not he!
Going up to his horses' heads, he examined their bits; not that
he knew anything about bits--he didn't pay his coachman sixty
pounds a year to do his work for him, that had never been his
principle. Indeed, his reputation as a horsey man rested mainly
on the fact that once, on Derby Day, he had been welshed by some
thimble-riggers. But someone at the Club, after seeing him drive
his greys up to the door--he always drove grey horses, you got
more style for the money, some thought--had called him 'Four-
in-hand Forsyte.' The name having reached his ears through that
fellow Nicholas Treffry, old Jolyon's dead partner, the great
driving man notorious for more carriage accidents than any man in
the kingdom--Swithin had ever after conceived it right to act up
to it. The name had taken his fancy, not because he had ever
driven four-in-hand, or was ever likely to, but because of
something distinguished in the sound. Four-in-hand Forsyte! Not
bad! Born too soon, Swithin had missed his vocation. Coming
upon London twenty years later, he could not have failed to have
become a stockbroker, but at the time when he was obliged to
select, this great profession had not as yet became the chief
glory of the upper-middle class. He had literally been forced
into land agency.
Once in the driving seat, with the reins handed to him, and
blinking over his pale old cheeks in the full sunlight, he took a
slow look round--Adolf was already up behind; the cockaded groom
at the horses' heads stood ready to let go; everything was
prepared for the signal, and Swithin gave it. The equipage
dashed forward, and before you could say Jack Robinson, with a
rattle and flourish drew up at Soames' door.
Irene came out at once, and stepped in--he afterward described it
at Timothy's--"as light as--er--Taglioni, no fuss about it, no
wanting this or wanting that;" and above all, Swithin dwelt on
this, staring at Mrs. Septimus in a way that disconcerted her a
good deal, "no silly nervousness!" To Aunt Hester he portrayed
Irene's hat. "Not one of your great flopping things, sprawling
about, and catching the dust, that women are so fond of nowadays,
but a neat little--" he made a circular motion of his hand, "white
"What was it made of?" inquired Aunt Hester, who manifested a
languid but permanent excitement at any mention of dress.
"Made of?" returned Swithin; "now how should I know?"
He sank into silence so profound that Aunt Hester began to be
afraid he had fallen into a trance. She did not try to rouse him
herself, it not being her custom.
'I wish somebody would come,' she thought; 'I don't like the look
But suddenly Swithin returned to life. "Made of" he wheezed out
slowly, "what should it be made of?"
They had not gone four miles before Swithin received the
impression that Irene liked driving with him. Her face was so
soft behind that white veil, and her dark eyes shone so in the
spring light, and whenever he spoke she raised them to him and
On Saturday morning Soames had found her at her writing-table
with a note written to Swithin, putting him off. Why did she
want to put him off? he asked. She might put her own people off
when she liked, he would not have her putting off his people!
She had looked at him intently, had torn up the note, and said:
And then she began writing another. He took a casual glance
presently, and saw that it was addressed to Bosinney.
"What are you writing to him about?" he asked.
Irene, looking at him again with that intent look, said quietly:
"Something he wanted me to do for him!"
"Humph!" said Soames,--"Commissions!"
"You'll have your work cut out if you begin that sort of thing!"
He said no more.
Swithin opened his eyes at the mention of Robin Hill; it was a
long way for his horses, and he always dined at half-past seven,
before the rush at the Club began; the new chef took more trouble
with an early dinner--a lazy rascal!
He would like to have a look at the house, however. A house
appealed to any Forsyte, and especially to one who had been an
auctioneer. After all he said the distance was nothing. When he
was a younger man he had had rooms at Richmond for many years,
kept his carriage and pair there, and drove them up and down to
business every day of his life.
Four-in-hand Forsyte they called him! His T-cart, his horses had
been known from Hyde Park Corner to the Star and Garter. The
Duke of Z.... wanted to get hold of them, would have given him
double the money, but he had kept them; know a good thing when
you have it, eh? A look of solemn pride came portentously on his
shaven square old face, he rolled his head in his stand-up
collar, like a turkey-cock preening himself.
She was really--a charming woman! He enlarged upon her frock
afterwards to Aunt Juley, who held up her hands at his way of
Fitted her like a skin--tight as a drum; that was how he liked
'em, all of a piece, none of your daverdy, scarecrow women! He
gazed at Mrs. Septimus Small, who took after James--long and
"There's style about her," he went on, "fit for a king! And
she's so quiet with it too!"
"She seems to have made quite a conquest of you, any way,"
drawled Aunt Hester from her corner.
Swithin heard extremely well when anybody attacked him.
"What's that?" he said. "I know a--pretty--woman when I see one,
and all I can say is, I don't see the young man about that's fit
for her; but perhaps--you--do, come, perhaps--you-do!"
"Oh?" murmured Aunt Hester, "ask Juley!"
Long before they reached Robin Hill, however, the unaccustomed
airing had made him terribly sleepy; he drove with his eyes
closed, a life-time of deportment alone keeping his tall and
bulky form from falling askew.
Bosinney, who was watching, came out to meet them, and all three
entered the house together; Swithin in front making play with a
stout gold-mounted Malacca cane, put into his hand by Adolf, for
his knees were feeling the effects of their long stay in the same
position. He had assumed his fur coat, to guard against the
draughts of the unfinished house.
The staircase--he said--was handsome! the baronial style! They
would want some statuary about! He came to a standstill between
the columns of the doorway into the inner court, and held out his
What was this to be--this vestibule, or whatever they called it?
But gazing at the skylight, inspiration came to him.
"Ah! the billiard-room!"
When told it was to be a tiled court with plants in the centre,
he turned to Irene:
"Waste this on plants? You take my advice and have a billiard
Irene smiled. She had lifted her veil, banding it like a nun's
coif across her forehead, and the smile of her dark eyes below
this seemed to Swithin more charming than ever. He nodded. She
would take his advice he saw.
He had little to say of the drawing or dining-rooms, which he
described as 'spacious"; but fell into such raptures as he
permitted to a man of his dignity, in the wine-cellar, to which
he descended by stone steps, Bosinney going first with a light.
"You'll have room here," he said, "for six or seven hundred
dozen--a very pooty little cellar!"
Bosinney having expressed the wish to show them the house from
the copse below, Swithin came to a stop.
"There's a fine view from here," he remarked; "you haven't such a
thing as a chair?"
A chair was brought him from Bosinney's tent.
"You go down," he said blandly; "you two! I'll sit here and look
at the view."
He sat down by the oak tree, in the sun; square and upright, with
one hand stretched out, resting on the nob of his cane, the other
planted on his knee; his fur coat thrown open, his hat, roofing
with its flat top the pale square of his face; his stare, very
blank, fixed on the landscape.
He nodded to them as they went off down through the fields. He
was, indeed, not sorry to be left thus for a quiet moment of
reflection. The air was balmy, not too much heat in the sun; the
prospect a fine one, a remarka.... His head fell a little to one
side; he jerked it up and thought: Odd! He--ah! They were
waving to him from the bottom! He put up his hand, and moved it
more than once. They were active--the prospect was remar....
His head fell to the left, he jerked it up at once; it fell to
the right. It remained there; he was asleep.
And asleep, a sentinel on the--top of the rise, he appeared to
rule over this prospect--remarkable--like some image blocked out
by the special artist, of primeval Forsytes in pagan days, to
record the domination of mind over matter!
And all the unnumbered generations of his yeoman ancestors, wont
of a Sunday to stand akimbo surveying their little plots of land,
their grey unmoving eyes hiding their instinct with its hidden
roots of violence, their instinct for possession to the exclusion
of all the world--all these unnumbered generations seemed to sit
there with him on the top of the rise.
But from him, thus slumbering, his jealous Forsyte spirit
travelled far, into God-knows-what jungle of fancies; with those
two young people, to see what they were doing down there in the
copse--in the copse where the spring was running riot with the
scent of sap and bursting buds, the song of birds innumerable, a
carpet of bluebells and sweet growing things, and the sun caught
like gold in the tops of the trees; to see what they were doing,
walking along there so close together on the path that was too
narrow; walking along there so close that they were always
touching; to watch Irene's eyes, like dark thieves, stealing the
heart out of the spring. And a great unseen chaperon, his spirit
was there, stopping with them to look at the little furry corpse
of a mole, not dead an hour, with his mushroom-and-silver coat
untouched by the rain or dew; watching over Irene's bent head,
and the soft look of her pitying eyes; and over that young man's
head, gazing at her so hard, so strangely. Walking on with them,
too, across the open space where a wood-cutter had been at work,
where the bluebells were trampled down, and a trunk had swayed
and staggered down from its gashed stump. Climbing it with them,
over, and on to the very edge of the copse, whence there
stretched an undiscovered country, from far away in which came
the sounds, 'Cuckoo-cuckoo!'
Silent, standing with them there, and uneasy at their silence!
Very queer, very strange!
Then back again, as though guilty, through the wood--back to the
cutting, still silent, amongst the songs of birds that never
ceased, and the wild scent--hum! what was it--like that herb
they put in--back to the log across the path....
And then unseen, uneasy, flapping above them, trying to make
noises, his Forsyte spirit watched her balanced on the log, her
pretty figure swaying, smiling down at that young man gazing up
with such strange, shining eyes, slipping now--a--ah! falling,
o--oh! sliding--down his breast; her soft, warm body clutched,
her head bent back from his lips; his kiss; her recoil; his cry:
"You must know--I love you!" Must know--indeed, a pretty...?
Swithin awoke; virtue had gone out of him. He had a taste in his
mouth. Where was he?
Damme! He had been asleep!
He had dreamed something about a new soup, with a taste of mint
Those young people--where had they got to? His left leg had pins
"Adolf!" The rascal was not there; the rascal was asleep
He stood up, tall, square, bulky in his fur, looking anxiously
down over the fields, and presently he saw them coming.
Irene was in front; that young fellow--what had they nicknamed
him--'The Buccaneer?' looked precious hangdog there behind her;
had got a flea in his ear, he shouldn't wonder. Serve him right,
taking her down all that way to look at the house! The proper
place to look at a house from was the lawn.
They saw him. He extended his arm, and moved it spasmodically to
encourage them. But they had stopped. What were they standing
there for, talking--talking? They came on again. She had been,
giving him a rub, he had not the least doubt of it, and no
wonder, over a house like that--a great ugly thing, not the sort
of house he was accustomed to.
He looked intently at their faces, with his pale, immovable
stare. That young man looked very queer!
"You'll never make anything of this!" he said tartly, pointing at
the mansion;--"too newfangled!"
Bosinney gazed at him as though he had not heard; and Swithin
afterwards described him to Aunt Hester as "an extravagant sort
of fellow very odd way of looking at you--a bumpy beggar!"
What gave rise to this sudden piece of psychology he did not
state; possibly Bosinney's, prominent forehead and cheekbones and
chin, or something hungry in his face, which quarrelled with
Swithin's conception of the calm satiety that should characterize
the perfect gentleman.
He brightened up at the mention of tea. He had a contempt for
tea--his brother Jolyon had been in tea; made a lot of money by
it--but he was so thirsty, and had such a taste in his mouth,
that he was prepared to drink anything. He longed to inform
Irene of the taste in his mouth--she was so sympathetic--but it
would not be a distinguished thing to do; he rolled his tongue
round, and faintly smacked it against his palate.
In a far corner of the tent Adolf was bending his cat-like
moustaches over a kettle. He left it at once to draw the cork of
a pint-bottle of champagne. Swithin smiled, and, nodding at
Bosinney, said: "Why, you're quite a Monte Cristo!" This
celebrated novel--one of the half-dozen he had read--had produced
an extraordinary impression on his mind.
Taking his glass from the table, he held it away from him to
scrutinize the colour; thirsty as he was, it was not likely that
he was going to drink trash! Then, placing it to his lips, he
took a sip.
"A very nice wine," he said at last, passing it before his nose;
"not the equal of my Heidsieck!"
It was at this moment that the idea came to him which he
afterwards imparted at Timothy's in this nutshell: "I shouldn't
wonder a bit if that architect chap were sweet upon Mrs. Soames!"
And from this moment his pale, round eyes never ceased to bulge
with the interest of his discovery.
"The fellow," he said to Mrs. Septimus, "follows her about with
his eyes like a dog--the bumpy beggar! I don't wonder at it--
she's a very charming woman, and, I should say, the pink of
discretion!" A vague consciousness of perfume caging about
Irene, like that from a flower with half-closed petals and a
passionate heart, moved him to the creation of this image. "But
I wasn't sure of it," he said, "till I saw him pick up her
Mrs. Small's eyes boiled with excitement.
"And did he give it her back?" she asked.
"Give it back?" said Swithin: "I saw him slobber on it when he
thought I wasn't looking!"
Mrs. Small gasped--too interested to speak.
"But she gave him no encouragement," went on Swithin; he stopped,
and stared for a minute or two in the way that alarmed Aunt
Hester so--he had suddenly recollected that, as they were
starting back in the phaeton, she had given Bosinney her hand a
second time, and let it stay there too.... He had touched his
horses smartly with the whip, anxious to get her all to himself.
But she had looked back, and she had not answered his first
question; neither had he been able to see her face--she had kept
it hanging down.
There is somewhere a picture, which Swithin has not seen, of a
man sitting on a rock, and by him, immersed in the still, green
water, a sea-nymph lying on her back, with her hand on her naked
breast. She has a half-smile on her face--a smile of hopeless
surrender and of secret joy.
Seated by Swithin's side, Irene may have been smiling like that.
When, warmed by champagne, he had her all to himself, he
unbosomed himself of his wrongs; of his smothered resentment
against the new chef at the club; his worry over the house in
Wigmore Street, where the rascally tenant had gone bankrupt
through helping his brother-in-law as if charity did not begin at
home; of his deafness, too, and that pain he sometimes got in his
right side. She listened, her eyes swimming under their lids.
He thought she was thinking deeply of his troubles, and pitied
himself terribly. Yet in his fur coat, with frogs across the
breast, his top hat aslant, driving this beautiful woman, he had
never felt more distinguished.
A coster, however, taking his girl for a Sunday airing, seemed to
have the same impression about himself. This person had flogged
his donkey into a gallop alongside, and sat, upright as a
waxwork, in his shallopy chariot, his chin settled pompously on a
red handkerchief, like Swithin's on his full cravat; while his
girl, with the ends of a fly-blown boa floating out behind, aped
a woman of fashion. Her swain moved a stick with a ragged bit of
string dangling from the end, reproducing with strange fidelity
the circular flourish of Swithin's whip, and rolled his head at
his lady with a leer that had a weird likeness to Swithin's
Though for a time unconscious of the lowly ruffian's presence,
Swithin presently took it into his head that he was being guyed.
He laid his whip-lash across the mares flank. The two chariots,
however, by some unfortunate fatality continued abreast.
Swithin's yellow, puffy face grew red; he raised his whip to lash
the costermonger, but was saved from so far forgetting his
dignity by a special intervention of Providence. A carriage
driving out through a gate forced phaeton and donkey-cart into
proximity; the wheels grated, the lighter vehicle skidded, and
Swithin did not look round. On no account would he have pulled
up to help the ruffian. Serve him right if he had broken his
But he could not if he would. The greys had taken alarm. The
phaeton swung from side to side, and people raised frightened
faces as they went dashing past. Swithin's great arms, stretched
at full length, tugged at the reins. His cheeks were puffed, his
lips compressed, his swollen face was of a dull, angry red.
Irene had her hand on the rail, and at every lurch she gripped it
tightly. Swithin heard her ask:
"Are we going to have an accident, Uncle Swithin?"
He gasped out between his pants: "It's nothing; a--little fresh!"
"I've never been in an accident."
"Don't you move!" He took a look at her. She was smiling,
perfectly calm. "Sit still," he repeated. "Never fear, I'll get
And in the midst of all his terrible efforts, he was surprised to
hear her answer in a voice not like her own:
"I don't care if I never get home!"
The carriage giving a terrific lurch, Swithin's exclamation was
jerked back into his throat. The horses, winded by the rise of a
hill, now steadied to a trot, and finally stopped of their own
"When"--Swithin described it at Timothy's--"I pulled 'em up,
there she was as cool as myself. God bless my soul! she behaved
as if she didn't care whether she broke her neck or not! What
was it she said: 'I don't care if I never get home?" Leaning over
the handle of his cane, he wheezed out, to Mrs. Small's terror:
"And I'm not altogether surprised, with a finickin' feller like
young Soames for a husband!"
It did not occur to him to wonder what Bosinney had done after
they had left him there alone; whether he had gone wandering
about like the dog to which Swithin had compared him; wandering
down to that copse where the spring was still in riot, the cuckoo
still calling from afar; gone down there with her handkerchief
pressed to lips, its fragrance mingling with the scent of mint
and thyme. Gone down there with such a wild, exquisite pain in
his heart that he could have cried out among the trees. Or what,
indeed, the fellow had done. In fact, till he came to Timothy's,
Swithin had forgotten all about him.
JAMES GOES TO SEE FOR HIMSELF
Those ignorant of Forsyte 'Change would not, perhaps, foresee all
the stir made by Irene's visit to the house.
After Swithin had related at Timothy's the full story of his
memorable drive, the same, with the least suspicion of curiosity,