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  • 1906
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the sound of a door closing in the distance announced the approach of Timothy.

That evening, when Aunt Hester had just got off to sleep in the back bedroom that used to be Aunt Juley’s before Aunt Juley took Aunt Ann’s, her door was opened, and Mrs. Small, in a pink night-cap, a candle in her hand, entered: “Hester!” she said. “Hester!”

Aunt Hester faintly rustled the sheet.

“Hester,” repeated Aunt Juley, to make quite sure that she had awakened her, “I am quite troubled about poor dear Jolyon. What,” Aunt Juley dwelt on the word, “do you think ought to be done?”

Aunt Hester again rustled the sheet, her voice was heard faintly pleading: “Done? How should I know?”

Aunt Juley turned away satisfied, and closing the door with extra gentleness so as not to disturb dear Hester, let it slip through her fingers and fall to with a ‘crack.’

Back in her own room, she stood at the window gazing at the moon over the trees in the Park, through a chink in the muslin curtains, close drawn lest anyone should see. And there, with her face all round and pouting in its pink cap, and her eyes wet, she thought of ‘dear Jolyon,’ so old and so lonely, and how she could be of some use to him; and how he would come to love her, as she had never been loved since–since poor Septimus went away.



Roger’s house in Prince’s Gardens was brilliantly alight. Large numbers of wax candles had been collected and placed in cut-glass chandeliers, and the parquet floor of the long, double drawing-room reflected these constellations. An appearance of real spaciousness had been secured by moving out all the furniture on to the upper landings, and enclosing the room with those strange appendages of civilization known as ‘rout’ seats. In a remote corner, embowered in palms, was a cottage piano, with a copy of the ‘Kensington Coil’ open on the music-stand.

Roger had objected to a band. He didn’t see in the least what they wanted with a band; he wouldn’t go to the expense, and there was an end of it. Francie (her mother, whom Roger had long since reduced to chronic dyspepsia, went to bed on such occasions), had been obliged to content herself with supplementing the piano by a young man who played the cornet, and she so arranged with palms that anyone who did not look into the heart of things might imagine there were several musicians secreted there. She made up her mind to tell them to play loud–there was a lot of music in a cornet, if the man would only put his soul into it.

In the more cultivated American tongue, she was ‘through’ at last–through that tortuous labyrinth of make-shifts, which must be traversed before fashionable display can be combined with the sound economy of a Forsyte. Thin but brilliant, in her maize-coloured frock with much tulle about the shoulders, she went from place to place, fitting on her gloves, and casting her eye over it all.

To the hired butler (for Roger only kept maids) she spoke about the wine. Did he quite understand that Mr. Forsyte wished a dozen bottles of the champagne from Whiteley’s to be put out? But if that were finished (she did not suppose it would be, most of the ladies would drink water, no doubt), but if it were, there was the champagne cup, and he must do the best he could with that.

She hated having to say this sort of thing to a butler, it was so infra dig.; but what could you do with father? Roger, indeed, after making himself consistently disagreeable about the dance, would come down presently, with his fresh colour and bumpy forehead, as though he had been its promoter; and he would smile, and probably take the prettiest woman in to supper; and at two o’clock, just as they were getting into the swing, he would go up secretly to the musicians and tell them to play ‘God Save the Queen,’ and go away.

Francie devoutly hoped he might soon get tired, and slip off to bed.

The three or four devoted girl friends who were staying in the house for this dance had partaken with her, in a small, abandoned room upstairs, of tea and cold chicken-legs, hurriedly served; the men had been sent out to dine at Eustace’s Club, it being felt that they must be fed up.

Punctually on the stroke of nine arrived Mrs. Small alone. She made elaborate apologies for the absence of Timothy, omitting all mention of Aunt Hester, who, at the last minute, had said she could not be bothered. Francie received her effusively, and placed her on a rout seat, where she left her, pouting and solitary in lavender-coloured satin–the first time she had worn colour since Aunt Ann’s death.

The devoted maiden friends came now from their rooms, each by magic arrangement in a differently coloured frock, but all with the same liberal allowance of tulle on the shoulders and at the bosom–for they were, by some fatality, lean to a girl. They were all taken up to Mrs. Small. None stayed with her more than a few seconds, but clustering together talked and twisted their programmes, looking secretly at the door for the first appearance of a man.

Then arrived in a group a number of Nicholases, always punctual– the fashion up Ladbroke Grove way; and close behind them Eustace and his men, gloomy and smelling rather of smoke.

Three or four of Francie’s lovers now appeared, one after the other; she had made each promise to come early. They were all clean-shaven and sprightly, with that peculiar kind of young-man sprightliness which had recently invaded Kensington; they did not seem to mind each other’s presence in the least, and wore their ties bunching out at the ends, white waistcoats, and socks with clocks. All had handkerchiefs concealed in their cuffs. They moved buoyantly, each armoured in professional gaiety, as though he had come to do great deeds. Their faces when they danced, far from wearing the traditional solemn look of the dancing English- man, were irresponsible, charming, suave; they bounded, twirling their partners at great pace, without pedantic attentionto the rhythm of the music.

At other dancers they looked with a kind of airy scorn–they, the light brigade, the heroes of a hundred Kensington ‘hops’–from whom alone could the right manner and smile and step be hoped.

After this the stream came fast; chaperones silting up along the wall facing the entrance, the volatile element swelling the eddy in the larger room.

Men were scarce, and wallflowers wore their peculiar, pathetic expression, a patient, sourish smile which seemed to say: “Oh, no! don’t mistake me, I know you are not coming up to me. I can hardly expect that!” And Francie would plead with one of her lovers, or with some callow youth: “Now, to please me, do let me introduce you to Miss Pink; such a nice girl, really!” and she would bring him up, and say: “Miss Pink–Mr. Gathercole. Can you spare him a dance?” Then Miss Pink, smiling her forced smile, colouring a little, answered: “Oh! I think so!” and screening her empty card, wrote on it the name of Gathercole, spelling it passionately in the district that he proposed, about the second extra.

But when the youth had murmured that it was hot, and passed, she relapsed into her attitude of hopeless expectation, into her patient, sourish smile.

Mothers, slowly fanning their faces, watched their daughters, and in their eyes could be read all the story of those daughters’ fortunes. As for themselves, to sit hour after hour, dead tired, silent, or talking spasmodically–what did it matter, so long as the girls were having a good time! But to see them neglected and passed by! Ah! they smiled, but their eyes stabbed like the eyes of an offended swan; they longed to pluck young Gathercole by the slack of his dandified breeches, and drag him to their daughters–the jackanapes!

And all the cruelties and hardness of life, its pathos and unequal chances, its conceit, self-forgetfulness, and patience, were presented on the battle-field of this Kensington ball-room.

Here and there, too, lovers–not lovers like Francie’s, a peculiar breed, but simply lovers–trembling, blushing, silent, sought each other by flying glances, sought to meet and touch in the mazes of the dance, and now and again dancing together, struck some beholder by the light in their eyes.

Not a second before ten o’clock came the Jameses–Emily, Rachel, Winifred (Dartie had been left behind, having on a former occasion drunk too much of Roger’s champagne), and Cicely, the youngest, making her debut; behind them, following in a hansom from the paternal mansion where they had dined, Soames and Irene.

All these ladies had shoulder-straps and no tulle–thus showing at once, by a bolder exposure of flesh, that they came from the more fashionable side of the Park.

Soames, sidling back from the contact of the dancers, took up a position against the wall. Guarding himself with his pale smile, he stood watching. Waltz after waltz began and ended, couple after couple brushed by with smiling lips, laughter, and snatches of talk; or with set lips, and eyes searching the throng; or again, with silent, parted lips, and eyes on each other. And the scent of festivity, the odour of flowers, and hair, of essences that women love, rose suffocatingly in the heat of the summer night.

Silent, with something of scorn in his smile, Soames seemed to notice nothing; but now and again his eyes, finding that which they sought, would fix themselves on a point in the shifting throng, and the smile die off his lips.

He danced with no one. Some fellows danced with their wives; his sense of ‘form’ had never permitted him to dance with Irene since their marriage, and the God of the Forsytes alone can tell whether this was a relief to him or not.

She passed, dancing with other men, her dress, iris-coloured, floating away from her feet. She danced well; he was tired of hearing women say with an acid smile: “How beautifully your wife dances, Mr. Forsyte–it’s quite a pleasure to watch her!” Tired of answering them with his sidelong glance: “You think so?”

A young couple close by flirted a fan by turns, making an unpleasant draught. Francie and one of her lovers stood near. They were talking of love.

He heard Roger’s voice behind, giving an order about supper to a servant. Everything was very second-class! He wished that he had not come! He had asked Irene whether she wanted him; she had answered with that maddening smile of hers “Oh, no!”

Why had he come? For the last quarter of an hour he had not even seen her. Here was George advancing with his Quilpish face; it was too late to get out of his way.

“Have you seen ‘The Buccaneer’?” said this licensed wag; “he’s on the warpath–hair cut and everything!”

Soames said he had not, and crossing the room, half-empty in an interval of the dance, he went out on the balcony, and looked down into the street.

A carriage had driven up with late arrivals, and round the door hung some of those patient watchers of the London streets who spring up to the call of light or music; their faces, pale and upturned above their black and rusty figures, had an air of stolid watching that annoyed Soames. Why were they allowed to hang about; why didn’t the bobby move them on?

But the policeman took no notice of them; his feet were planted apart on the strip of crimson carpet stretched across the pavement; his face, under the helmet, wore the same stolid, watching look as theirs.

Across the road, through the railings, Soames could see the branches of trees shining, faintly stirring in the breeze, by the gleam of the street lamps; beyond, again, the upper lights of the houses on the other side, so many eyes looking down on the quiet blackness of the garden; and over all, the sky, that wonderful London sky, dusted with the innumerable reflection of countless lamps; a dome woven over between its stars with the refraction of human needs and human fancies–immense mirror of pomp and misery that night after night stretches its kindly mocking over miles of houses and gardens, mansions and squalor, over Forsytes, policemen, and patient watchers in the streets.

Soames turned away, and, hidden in the recess, gazed into the lighted room. It was cooler out there. He saw the new arrivals, June and her grandfather, enter. What had made them so late? They stood by the doorway. They looked fagged. Fancy Uncle Jolyon turning out at this time of night! Why hadn’t June come to Irene, as she usually did, and it occurred to him suddenly that he had seen nothing of June for a long time now.

Watching her face with idle malice, he saw it change, grow so pale that he thought she would drop, then flame out crimson. Turning to see at what she was looking, he saw his wife on Bosinney’s arm, coming from the conservatory at the end of the room. Her eyes were raised to his, as though answering some question he had asked, and he was gazing at her intently.

Soames looked again at June. Her hand rested on old Jolyon’s arm; she seemed to be making a request. He saw a surprised look on his uncle’s face; they turned and passed through the door out of his sight.

The music began again–a waltz–and, still as a statue in the recess of the window, his face unmoved, but no smile on his lips, Soames waited. Presently, within a yard of the dark balcony, his wife and Bosinney passed. He caught the perfume of the gardenias that she wore, saw the rise and fall of her bosom, the languor in her eyes, her parted lips, and a look on her face that he did not know. To the slow, swinging measure they danced by, and it seemed to him that they clung to each other; he saw her raise her eyes, soft and dark, to Bosinney’s, and drop them again.

Very white, he turned back to the balcony, and leaning on it, gazed down on the Square; the figures were still there looking up at the light with dull persistency, the policeman’s face, too, upturned, and staring, but he saw nothing of them. Below, a carriage drew up, two figures got in, and drove away….

That evening June and old Jolyon sat down to dinner at the usual hour. The girl was in her customary high-necked frock, old Jolyon had not dressed.

At breakfast she had spoken of the dance at Uncle Roger’s, she wanted to go; she had been stupid enough, she said, not to think of asking anyone to take her. It was too late now.

Old Jolyon lifted his keen eyes. June was used to go to dances with Irene as a matter of course! and deliberately fixing his gaze on her, he asked: “Why don’t you get Irene?”

No! June did not want to ask Irene; she would only go if–if her grandfather wouldn’t mind just for once for a little time!

At her look, so eager and so worn, old Jolyon had grumblingly consented. He did not know what she wanted, he said, with going to a dance like this, a poor affair, he would wager; and she no more fit for it than a cat! What she wanted was sea air, and after his general meeting of the Globular Gold Concessions he was ready to take her. She didn’t want to go away? Ah! she would knock herself up! Stealing a mournful look at her, he went on with his breakfast.

June went out early, and wandered restlessly about in the heat. Her little light figure that lately had moved so languidly about its business, was all on fire. She bought herself some flowers. She wanted–she meant to look her best. He would be there! She knew well enough that he had a card. She would show him that she did not care. But deep down in her heart she resolved that evening to win him back. She came in flushed, and talked brightly all lunch; old Jolyon was there, and he was deceived.

In the afternoon she was overtaken by a desperate fit of sobbing. She strangled the noise against the pillows of her bed, but when at last it ceased she saw in the glass a swollen face with reddened eyes, and violet circles round them. She stayed in the darkened room till dinner time.

All through that silent meal the struggle went on within her.

She looked so shadowy and exhausted that old Jolyon told ‘Sankey’ to countermand the carriage, he would not have her going out…. She was to go to bed! She made no resistance. She went up to her room, and sat in the dark. At ten o’clock she rang for her maid.

“Bring some hot water, and go down and tell Mr. Forsyte that I feel perfectly rested. Say that if he’s too tired I can go to the dance by myself.”

The maid looked askance, and June turned on her imperiously. “Go,” she said, “bring the hot water at once!”

Her ball-dress still lay on the sofa, and with a sort of fierce care she arrayed herself, took the flowers in her hand, and went down, her small face carried high under its burden of hair. She could hear old Jolyon in his room as she passed.

Bewildered and vexed, he was dressing. It was past ten, they would not get there till eleven; the girl was mad. But he dared not cross her–the expression of her face at dinner haunted him.

With great ebony brushes he smoothed his hair till it shone like silver under the light; then he, too, came out on the gloomy staircase.

June met him below, and, without a word, they went to the carriage.

When, after that drive which seemed to last for ever, she entered Roger’s drawing-room, she disguised under a mask of resolution a very torment of nervousness and emotion. The feeling of shame at what might be called ‘running after him’ was smothered by the dread that he might not be there, that she might not see him after all, and by that dogged resolve–somehow, she did not know how–to win him back.

The sight of the ballroom, with its gleaming floor, gave her a feeling of joy, of triumph, for she loved dancing, and when dancing she floated, so light was she, like a strenuous, eager little spirit. He would surely ask her to dance, and if he danced with her it would all be as it was before. She looked about her eagerly.

The sight of Bosinney coming with Irene from the conservatory, with that strange look of utter absorption on his face, struck her too suddenly. They had not seen–no one should see–her distress, not even her grandfather.

She put her hand on Jolyon’s arm, and said very low:

“I must go home, Gran; I feel ill.”

He hurried her away, grumbling to himself that he had known how it would be.

To her he said nothing; only when they were once more in the carriage, which by some fortunate chance had lingered near the door, he asked her: “What is it, my darling?”

Feeling her whole slender body shaken by sobs, he was terribly alarmed. She must have Blank to-morrow. He would insist upon it. He could not have her like this…. There, there!

June mastered her sobs, and squeezing his hand feverishly, she lay back in her corner, her face muffled in a shawl.

He could only see her eyes, fixed and staring in the dark, but he did not cease to stroke her hand with his thin fingers.



Other eyes besides the eyes of June and of Soames had seen ‘those two’ (as Euphemia had already begun to call them) coming from the conservatory; other eyes had noticed the look on Bosinney’s face.

There are moments when Nature reveals the passion hidden beneath the careless calm of her ordinary moods–violent spring flashing white on almond-blossom through the purple clouds; a snowy, moonlit peak, with its single star, soaring up to the passionate blue; or against the flames of sunset, an old yew-tree standing dark guardian of some fiery secret.

There are moments, too, when in a picture-gallery, a work, noted by the casual spectator as ‘……Titian–remarkably fine,’ breaks through the defences of some Forsyte better lunched perhaps than his fellows, and holds him spellbound in a kind of ecstasy. There are things, he feels–there are things here which–well, which are things. Something unreasoning, unreasonable, is upon him; when he tries to define it with the precision of a practical man, it eludes him, slips away, as the glow of the wine he has drunk is slipping away, leaving him cross, and conscious of his liver. He feels that he has been extravagant, prodigal of something; virtue has gone out of him. He did not desire this glimpse of what lay under the three stars of his catalogue. God forbid that he should know anything about the forces of Nature! God forbid that he should admit for a moment that there are such things! Once admit that, and where was he? One paid a shilling for entrance, and another for the programme.

The look which June had seen, which other Forsytes had seen, was like the sudden flashing of a candle through a hole in some imaginary canvas, behind which it was being moved–the sudden flaming-out of a vague, erratic glow, shadowy and enticing. It brought home to onlookers the consciousness that dangerous forces were at work. For a moment they noticed it with pleasure, with interest, then felt they must not notice it at all.

It supplied, however, the reason of June’s coming so late and disappearing again without dancing, without even shaking hands with her lover. She was ill, it was said, and no wonder.

But here they looked at each other guiltily. They had no desire to spread scandal, no desire to be ill-natured. Who would have? And to outsiders no word was breathed, unwritten law keeping them silent.

Then came the news that June had gone to the seaside with old Jolyon.

He had carried her off to Broadstairs, for which place there was just then a feeling, Yarmouth having lost caste, in spite of Nicholas, and no Forsyte going to the sea without intending to have an air for his money such as would render him bilious in a week. That fatally aristocratic tendency of the first Forsyte to drink Madeira had left his descendants undoubtedly accessible.

So June went to the sea. The family awaited developments; there was nothing else to do.

But how far–how far had ‘those two’ gone? How far were they going to go? Could they really be going at all? Nothing could surely come of it, for neither of them had any money. At the most a flirtation, ending, as all such attachments should, at the proper time.

Soames’ sister, Winifred Dartie, who had imbibed with the breezes of Mayfair–she lived in Green Street–more fashionable principles in regard to matrimonial behaviour than were current, for instance, in Ladbroke Grove, laughed at the idea of there being anything in it. The ‘little thing’–Irene was taller than herself, and it was real testimony to the solid worth of a Forsyte that she should always thus be a ‘little thing’–the little thing was bored. Why shouldn’t she amuse herself? Soames was rather tiring; and as to Mr. Bosinney–only that buffoon George would have called him the Buccaneer–she maintained that he was very chic.

This dictum–that Bosinney was chic–caused quit a sensation. It failed to convince. That he was ‘good-looking in a way’ they were prepared to admit, but that anyone could call a man with his pronounced cheekbones, curious eyes, arid soft felt hats chic was only another instance of Winifred’s extravagant way of running after something new.

It was that famous summer when extravagance was fashionable, when the very earth was extravagant, chestnut-trees spread with blossom, and flowers drenched in perfume, as they had never been before; when roses blew in every garden; and for the swarming stars the nights had hardly space; when every day and all day long the sun, in full armour, swung his brazen shield above the Park, and people did strange things, lunching and dining in the open air. Unprecedented was the tale of cabs and carriages that streamed across the bridges of the shining river, bearing the upper-middle class in thousands to the green glories of Bushey, Richmond, Kew, and Hampton Court. Almost every family with any pretensions to be of the carriage-class paid one visit that year to the horse-chestnuts at Bushey, or took one drive amongst the Spanish chestnuts of Richmond Park. Bowling smoothly, if dustily, along, in a cloud of their own creation, they would stare fashionably at the antlered heads which the great slow deer raised out of a forest of bracken that promised to autumn lovers such cover as was never seen before. And now and again, as the amorous perfume of chestnut flowers and of fern was drifted too near, one would say to the other: “My dear! What a peculiar scent!”

And the lime-flowers that year were of rare prime, near honey-coloured. At the corners of London squares they gave out, as the sun went down, a perfume sweeter than the honey bees had taken–a perfume that stirred a yearning unnamable in the hearts of Forsytes and their peers, taking the cool after dinner in the precincts of those gardens to which they alone had keys.

And that yearning made them linger amidst the dim shapes of flower-beds in the failing daylight, made them turn, and turn, and turn again, as though lovers were waiting for them–waiting for the last light to die away under the shadow of the branches.

Some vague sympathy evoked by the scent of the limes, some sisterly desire to see for herself, some idea of demonstrating the soundness of her dictum that there was ‘nothing in it’; or merely the craving to drive down to Richmond, irresistible that summer, moved the mother of the little Darties (of little Publius, of Imogen, Maud, and Benedict) to write the following note to her sister-in-law:

‘June 30.

‘I hear that Soames is going to Henley tomorrow for the night. I thought it would be great fun if we made up a little party and drove down to, Richmond. Will you ask Mr. Bosinney, and I will get young Flippard.

‘Emily (they called their mother Emily–it was so chic) will lend us the carriage. I will call for you and your young man at seven o’clock.

‘Your affectionate sister,


‘Montague believes the dinner at the Crown and Sceptre to be quite eatable.’

Montague was Dartie’s second and better known name–his first being Moses; for he was nothing if not a man of the world.

Her plan met with more opposition from Providence than so benevolent a scheme deserved. In the first place young Flippard wrote:


‘Awfully sorry. Engaged two deep.



It was late to send into the byeways and hedges to remedy this misfortune. With the promptitude and conduct of a mother, Winifred fell back on her husband. She had, indeed, the decided but tolerant temperament that goes with a good deal of profile, fair hair, and greenish eyes. She was seldom or never at a loss; or if at a loss, was always able to convert it into a gain.

Dartie, too, was in good feather. Erotic had failed to win the Lancashire Cup. Indeed, that celebrated animal, owned as he was by a pillar of the turf, who had secretly laid many thousands against him, had not even started. The forty-eight hours that followed his scratching were among the darkest in Dartie’s life.

Visions of James haunted him day and night. Black thoughts about Soames mingled with the faintest hopes. On the Friday night he got drunk, so greatly was he affected. But on Saturday morning the true Stock Exchange instinct triumphed within him. Owing some hundreds, which by no possibility could he pay, he went into town and put them all on Concertina for the Saltown Borough Handicap.

As he said to Major Scrotton, with whom he lunched at the Iseeum: “That little Jew boy, Nathans, had given him the tip. He didn’t care a cursh. He wash in–a mucker. If it didn’t come up–well then, damme, the old man would have to pay!”

A bottle of Pol Roger to his own cheek had given him a new contempt for James.

It came up. Concertina was squeezed home by her neck–a terrible squeak! But, as Dartie said: There was nothing like pluck!

He was by no means averse to the expedition to Richmond. He would ‘stand’ it himself! He cherished an admiration for Irene, and wished to be on more playful terms with her.

At half-past five the Park Lane footman came round to say: Mrs. Forsyte was very sorry, but one of the horses was coughing!

Undaunted by this further blow, Winifred at once despatched little Publius (now aged seven) with the nursery governess to Montpellier Square.

They would go down in hansoms and meet at the Crown and Sceptre at 7.45.

Dartie, on being told, was pleased enough. It was better than going down with your back to the horses! He had no objection to driving down with Irene. He supposed they would pick up the others at Montpellier Square, and swop hansoms there?

Informed that the meet was at the Crown and Sceptre, and that he would have to drive with his wife, he turned sulky, and said it was d—d slow!

At seven o’clock they started, Dartie offering to bet the driver half-a-crown he didn’t do it in the three-quarters of an hour.

Twice only did husband and wife exchange remarks on the way.

Dartie said: “It’ll put Master Soames’s nose out of joint to hear his wife’s been drivin’ in a hansom with Master Bosinney!”

Winifred replied: “Don’t talk such nonsense, Monty!”

“Nonsense!” repeated Dartie. “You don’t know women, my fine lady!”

On the other occasion he merely asked: “How am I looking? A bit puffy about the gills? That fizz old George is so fond of is a windy wine!”

He had been lunching with George Forsyte at the Haversnake.

Bosinney and Irene had arrived before them. They were standing in one of the long French windows overlooking the river.

Windows that summer were open all day long, and all night too, and day and night the scents of flowers and trees came in, the hot scent of parching grass, and the cool scent of the heavy dews.

To the eye of the observant Dartie his two guests did not appear to be making much running, standing there close together, without a word. Bosinney was a hungry-looking creature–not much go about him

He left them to Winifred, however, and busied himself to order the dinner.

A Forsyte will require good, if not delicate feeding, but a Dartie will tax the resources of a Crown and Sceptre. Living as he does, from hand to mouth, nothing is too good for him to eat; and he will eat it. His drink, too, will need to be carefully provided; there is much drink in this country ‘not good enough’ for a Dartie; he will have the best. Paying for things vicariously, there is no reason why he should stint himself. To stint yourself is the mark of a fool, not of a Dartie.

The best of everything! No sounder principle on which a man can base his life, whose father-in-law has a very considerable income, and a partiality for his grandchildren.

With his not unable eye Dartie had spotted this weakness in James the very first year after little Publius’s arrival (an error); he had profited by his perspicacity. Four little Darties were now a sort of perpetual insurance.

The feature of the feast was unquestionably the red mullet. This delectable fish, brought from a considerable distance in a state of almost perfect preservation, was first fried, then boned, then served in ice, with Madeira punch in place of sauce, according to a recipe known to a few men of the world.

Nothing else calls for remark except the payment of the bill by Dartie.

He had made himself extremely agreeable throughout the meal; his bold, admiring stare seldom abandoning Irene’s face and figure. As he was obliged to confess to himself, he got no change out of her–she was cool enough, as cool as her shoulders looked under their veil of creamy lace. He expected to have caught her out in some little game with Bosinney; but not a bit of it, she kept up her end remarkably well. As for that architect chap, he was as glum as a bear with a sore head–Winifred could barely get a word out of him; he ate nothing, but he certainly took his liquor, and his face kept getting whiter, and his eyes looked queer.

It was all very amusing.

For Dartie himself was in capital form, and talked freely, with a certain poignancy, being no fool. He told two or three stories verging on the improper, a concession to the company, for his stories were not used to verging. He proposed Irene’s health in a mock speech. Nobody drank it, and Winifred said: “Don’t be such a clown, Monty!”

At her suggestion they went after dinner to the public terrace overlooking the river.

“I should like to see the common people making love,” she said, “it’s such fun!”

There were numbers of them walking in the cool, after the day’s heat, and the air was alive with the sound of voices, coarse and loud, or soft as though murmuring secrets.

It was not long before Winifred’s better sense–she was the only Forsyte present–secured them an empty bench. They sat down in a row. A heavy tree spread a thick canopy above their heads, and the haze darkened slowly over the river.

Dartie sat at the end, next to him Irene, then Bosinney, then Winifred. There was hardly room for four, and the man of the world could feel Irene’s arm crushed against his own; he knew that she could not withdraw it without seeming rude, and this amused him; he devised every now and again a movement that would bring her closer still. He thought: ‘That Buccaneer Johnny shan’t have it all to himself! It’s a pretty tight fit, certainly!’

From far down below on the dark river came drifting the tinkle of a mandoline, and voices singing the old round:

‘A boat, a boat, unto the ferry,
For we’ll go over and be merry;
And laugh, and quaff, and drink brown sherry!’

And suddenly the moon appeared, young and tender, floating up on her back from behind a tree; and as though she had breathed, the air was cooler, but down that cooler air came always the warm odour of the limes.

Over his cigar Dartie peered round at Bosinney, who was sitting with his arms crossed, staring straight in front of him, and on his face the look of a man being tortured.

And Dartie shot a glance at the face between, so veiled by the overhanging shadow that it was but like a darker piece of the darkness shaped and breathed on; soft, mysterious, enticing.

A hush had fallen on the noisy terrace, as if all the strollers were thinking secrets too precious to be spoken.

And Dartie thought: ‘Women!’

The glow died above the river, the singing ceased; the young moon hid behind a tree, and all was dark. He pressed himself against Irene.

He was not alarmed at the shuddering that ran through the limbs he touched, or at the troubled, scornful look of her eyes. He felt her trying to draw herself away, and smiled.

It must be confessed that the man of the world had drunk quite as much as was good for him.

With thick lips parted under his well-curled moustaches, and his bold eyes aslant upon her, he had the malicious look of a satyr.

Along the pathway of sky between the hedges of the tree tops the stars clustered forth; like mortals beneath, they seemed to shift and swarm and whisper. Then on the terrace the buzz broke out once more, and Dartie thought: ‘Ah! he’s a poor, hungry-looking devil, that Bosinney!’ and again he pressed himself against Irene.

The movement deserved a better success. She rose, and they all followed her.

The man of the world was more than ever determined to see what she was made of. Along the terrace he kept close at her elbow. He had within him much good wine. There was the long drive home, the long drive and the warm dark and the pleasant closeness of the hansom cab–with its insulation from the world devised by some great and good man. That hungry architect chap might drive with his wife–he wished him joy of her! And, conscious that his voice was not too steady, he was careful not to speak; but a smile had become fixed on his thick lips.

They strolled along toward the cabs awaiting them at the farther end. His plan had the merit of all great plans, an almost brutal simplicity he would merely keep at her elbow till she got in, and get in quickly after her.

But when Irene reached the cab she did not get in; she slipped, instead, to the horse’s head. Dartie was not at the moment sufficiently master of his legs to follow. She stood stroking the horse’s nose, and, to his annoyance, Bosinney was at her side first. She turned and spoke to him rapidly, in a low voice; the words ‘That man’ reached Dartie. He stood stubbornly by the cab step, waiting for her to come back. He knew a trick worth two of that!

Here, in the lamp-light, his figure (no more than medium height), well squared in its white evening waistcoat, his light overcoat flung over his arm, a pink flower in his button-hole, and on his dark face that look of confident, good-humoured insolence, he was at his best–a thorough man of the world.

Winifred was already in her cab. Dartie reflected that Bosinney would have a poorish time in that cab if he didn’t look sharp! Suddenly he received a push which nearly overturned him in the road. Bosinney’s voice hissed in his ear: “I am taking Irene back; do you understand?” He saw a face white with passion, and eyes that glared at him like a wild cat’s.

“Eh?” he stammered. “What? Not a bit. You take my wife!”

“Get away!” hissed Bosinney–“or I’ll throw you into the road!”

Dartie recoiled; he saw as plainly as possible that the fellow meant it. In the space he made Irene had slipped by, her dress brushed his legs. Bosinney stepped in after her.

“Go on!” he heard the Buccaneer cry. The cabman flicked his horse. It sprang forward.

Dartie stood for a moment dumbfounded; then, dashing at the cab where his wife sat, he scrambled in.

“Drive on!” he shouted to the driver, “and don’t you lose sight of that fellow in front!”

Seated by his wife’s side, he burst into imprecations. Calming himself at last with a supreme effort, he added: “A pretty mess you’ve made of it, to let the Buccaneer drive home with her; why on earth couldn’t you keep hold of him? He’s mad with love; any fool can see that!”

He drowned Winifred’s rejoinder with fresh calls to the Almighty; nor was it until they reached Barnes that he ceased a Jeremiad, in the course of which he had abused her, her father, her brother, Irene, Bosinney, the name of Forsyte, his own children, and cursed the day when he had ever married.

Winifred, a woman of strong character, let him have his say, at the end of which he lapsed into sulky silence. His angry eyes never deserted the back of that cab, which, like a lost chance, haunted the darkness in front of him.

Fortunately he could not hear Bosinney’s passionate pleading– that pleading which the man of the world’s conduct had let loose like a flood; he could not see Irene shivering, as though some garment had been torn from her, nor her eyes, black and mournful, like the eyes of a beaten child. He could not hear Bosinney entreating, entreating, always entreating; could not hear her sudden, soft weeping, nor see that poor, hungry-looking devil, awed and trembling, humbly touching her hand.

In Montpellier Square their cabman, following his instructions to the letter, faithfully drew up behind the cab in front. The Darties saw Bosinney spring out, and Irene follow, and hasten up the steps with bent head. She evidently had her key in her hand, for she disappeared at once. It was impossible to tell whether she had turned to speak to Bosinney.

The latter came walking past their cab; both husband and wife had an admirable view of his face in the light of a street lamp. It was working with violent emotion.

“Good-night, Mr. Bosinney!” called Winifred.

Bosinney started, clawed off his hat, and hurried on. He had obviously forgotten their existence.

“There!” said Dartie, “did you see the beast’s face? What did I say? Fine games!” He improved the occasion.

There had so clearly been a crisis in the cab that Winifred was unable to defend her theory.

She said: “I shall say nothing about it. I don’t see any use in making a fuss!”

With that view Dartie at once concurred; looking upon James as a private preserve, he disapproved of his being disturbed by the troubles of others.

“Quite right,” he said; “let Soames look after himself. He’s jolly well able to!”

Thus speaking, the Darties entered their habitat in Green Street, the rent of which was paid by James, and sought a well-earned rest. The hour was midnight, and no Forsytes remained abroad in the streets to spy out Bosinney’s wanderings; to see him return and stand against the rails of the Square garden, back from the glow of the street lamp; to see him stand there in the shadow of trees, watching the house where in the dark was hidden she whom he would have given the world to see for a single minute–she who was now to him the breath of the lime-trees, the meaning of the light and the darkness, the very beating of his own heart.



It is in the nature of a Forsyte to be ignorant that he is a Forsyte; but young Jolyon was well aware of being one. He had not known it till after the decisive step which had made him an outcast; since then the knowledge had been with him continually. He felt it throughout his alliance, throughout all his dealings with his second wife, who was emphatically not a Forsyte.

He knew that if he had not possessed in great measure the eye for what he wanted, the tenacity to hold on to it, the sense of the folly of wasting that for which he had given so big a price–in other words, the ‘sense of property’ he could never have retained her (perhaps never would have desired to retain her) with him through all the financial troubles, slights, and misconstructions of those fifteen years; never have induced her to marry him on the death of his first wife; never have lived it all through, and come up, as it were, thin, but smiling.

He was one of those men who, seated cross-legged like miniature Chinese idols in the cages of their own hearts, are ever smiling at themselves a doubting smile. Not that this smile, so intimate and eternal, interfered with his actions, which, like his chin and his temperament, were quite a peculiar blend of softness and determination.

He was conscious, too, of being a Forsyte in his work, that painting of water-colours to which he devoted so much energy, always with an eye on himself, as though he could not take so unpractical a pursuit quite seriously, and always with a certain queer uneasiness that he did not make more money at it.

It was, then, this consciousness of what it meant to be a Forsyte, that made him receive the following letter from old Jolyon, with a mixture of sympathy and disgust:


‘July 1.

(The Dad’s handwriting had altered very little in the thirty odd years that he remembered it.)

‘We have been here now a fortnight, and have had good weather on the whole. The air is bracing, but my liver is out of order, and I shall be glad enough to get back to town. I cannot say much for June, her health and spirits are very indifferent, and I don’t see what is to come of it. She says nothing, but it is clear that she is harping on this engagement, which is an engagement and no engagement, and–goodness knows what. I have grave doubts whether she ought to be allowed to return to London in the present state of affairs, but she is so self-willed that she might take it into her head to come up at any moment. The fact is someone ought to speak to Bosinney and ascertain what he means. I’m afraid of this myself, for I should certainly rap him over the knuckles, but I thought that you, knowing him at the Club, might put in a word, and get to ascertain what the fellow is about. You will of course in no way commit June. I shall be glad to hear from you in the course of a few days whether you have succeeded in gaining any information. The situation is very distressing to me, I worry about it at night.

With my love to Jolly and Holly.
‘I am,
‘Your affect. father,


Young Jolyon pondered this letter so long and seriously that his wife noticed his preoccupation, and asked him what was the matter. He replied: “Nothing.”

It was a fixed principle with him never to allude to June. She might take alarm, he did not know what she might think; he hastened, therefore, to banish from his manner all traces of absorption, but in this he was about as successful as his father would have been, for he had inherited all old Jolyon’s transparency in matters of domestic finesse; and young Mrs. Jolyon, busying herself over the affairs of the house, went about with tightened lips, stealing at him unfathomable looks.

He started for the Club in the afternoon with the letter in his pocket, and without having made up his mind.

To sound a man as to ‘his intentions’ was peculiarly unpleasant to him; nor did his own anomalous position diminish this unpleasantness. It was so like his family, so like all the people they knew and mixed with, to enforce what they called their rights over a man, to bring him up to the mark; so like them to carry their business principles into their private relations.

And how that phrase in the letter–‘You will, of course, in no way commit June’–gave the whole thing away.

Yet the letter, with the personal grievance, the concern for June, the ‘rap over the knuckles,’ was all so natural. No wonder his father wanted to know what Bosinney meant, no wonder he was angry.

It was difficult to refuse! But why give the thing to him to do? That was surely quite unbecoming; but so long as a Forsyte got what he was after, he was not too particular about the means, provided appearances were saved.

How should he set about it, or how refuse? Both seemed impossible. So, young Jolyon!

He arrived at the Club at three o’clock, and the first person he saw was Bosinney himself, seated in a corner, staring out of the window.

Young Jolyon sat down not far off, and began nervously to reconsider his position. He looked covertly at Bosinney sitting there unconscious. He did not know him very well, and studied him attentively for perhaps the first time; an unusual looking man, unlike in dress, face, and manner to most of the other members of the Club–young Jolyon himself, however different he had become in mood and temper, had always retained the neat reticence of Forsyte appearance. He alone among Forsytes was ignorant of Bosinney’s nickname. The man was unusual, not eccentric, but unusual; he looked worn, too, haggard, hollow in the cheeks beneath those broad, high cheekbones, though without any appearance of ill-health, for he was strongly built, with curly hair that seemed to show all the vitality of a fine constitution.

Something in his face and attitude touched young Jolyon. He knew what suffering was like, and this man looked as if he were suffering.

He got up and touched his arm.

Bosinney started, but exhibited no sign of embarrassment on seeing who it was.

Young Jolyon sat down.

“I haven’t seen you for a long time,” he said. “How are you getting on with my cousin’s house?”

“It’ll be finished in about a week.”

“I congratulate you!”

“Thanks–I don’t know that it’s much of a subject for congratulation.”

“No?” queried young Jolyon; “I should have thought you’d be glad to get a long job like that off your hands; but I suppose you feel it much as I do when I part with a picture–a sort of child?”

He looked kindly at Bosinney.

“Yes,” said the latter more cordially, “it goes out from you and there’s an end of it. I didn’t know you painted.”

“Only water-colours; I can’t say I believe in my work.”

“Don’t believe in it? There–how can you do it? Work’s no use unless you believe in it!”

“Good,” said young Jolyon; “it’s exactly what I’ve always said. By-the-bye, have you noticed that whenever one says ‘Good,’ one always adds ‘it’s exactly what I’ve always said’! But if you ask me how I do it, I answer, because I’m a Forsyte.”

“A Forsyte! I never thought of you as one!”

“A Forsyte,” replied young Jolyon, “is not an uncommon animal. There are hundreds among the members of this Club. Hundreds out there in the streets; you meet them wherever you go!”

“And how do you tell them, may I ask?” said Bosinney.

“By their sense of property. A Forsyte takes a practical–one might say a commonsense–view of things, and a practical view of things is based fundamentally on a sense of property. A Forsyte, you will notice, never gives himself away.”


Young Jolyon’s eye twinkled.

“Not much. As a Forsyte myself, I have no business to talk. But I’m a kind of thoroughbred mongrel; now, there’s no mistaking you: You’re as different from me as I am from my Uncle James, who is the perfect specimen of a Forsyte. His sense of property is extreme, while you have practically none. Without me in between, you would seem like a different species. I’m the missing link. We are, of course, all of us the slaves of property, and I admit that it’s a question of degree, but what I call a ‘Forsyte’ is a man who is decidedly more than less a slave of property. He knows a good thing, he knows a safe thing, and his grip on property–it doesn’t matter whether it be wives, houses, money, or reputation–is his hall-mark.”

“Ah!” murmured Bosinney. “You should patent the word.”

“I should like,” said young Jolyon, “to lecture on it:

“Properties and quality of a Forsyte: This little animal, disturbed by the ridicule of his own sort, is unaffected in his motions by the laughter of strange creatures (you or I). Hereditarily disposed to myopia, he recognises only the persons of his own species, amongst which he passes an existence of competitive tranquillity.”

“You talk of them,” said Bosinney, “as if they were half England.”

“They are,” repeated young Jolyon, “half England, and the better half, too, the safe half, the three per cent. half, the half that counts. It’s their wealth and security that makes everything possible; makes your art possible, makes literature, science, even religion, possible. Without Forsytes, who believe in none of these things, and habitats but turn them all to use, where should we be? My dear sir, the Forsytes are the middlemen, the commercials, the pillars of society, the cornerstones of convention; everything that is admirable!”

“I don’t know whether I catch your drift,” said Bosinney, “but I fancy there are plenty of Forsytes, as you call them, in my profession.”

“Certainly,” replied young Jolyon. “The great majority of architects, painters, or writers have no principles, like any other Forsytes. Art, literature, religion, survive by virtue of the few cranks who really believe in such things, and the many Forsytes who make a commercial use of them. At a low estimate, three-fourths of our Royal Academicians are Forsytes, seven- eighths of our novelists, a large proportion of the press. Of science I can’t speak; they are magnificently represented in religion; in the House of Commons perhaps more numerous than anywhere; the aristocracy speaks for itself. But I’m not laughing. It is dangerous to go against the majority and what a majority!” He fixed his eyes on Bosinney: “It’s dangerous to let anything carry you away–a house, a picture, a–woman!”

They looked at each other.–And, as though he had done that which no Forsyte did–given himself away, young Jolyon drew into his shell. Bosinney broke the silence.

“Why do you take your own people as the type?” said he.

“My people,” replied young Jolyon, “are not very extreme, and they have their own private peculiarities, like every other family, but they possess in a remarkable degree those two qualities which are the real tests of a Forsyte–the power of never being able to give yourself up to anything soul and body, and the ‘sense of property’.”

Bosinney smiled: “How about the big one, for instance?”

“Do you mean Swithin?” asked young Jolyon. “Ah! in Swithin there’s something primeval still. The town and middle-class life haven’t digested him yet. All the old centuries of farmwork and brute force have settled in him, and there they’ve stuck, for all he’s so distinguished.”

Bosinney seemed to ponder. “Well, you’ve hit your cousin Soames off to the life,” he said suddenly. “He’ll never blow his brains out.”

Young Jolyon shot at him a penetrating glance.

“No,” he said; “he won’t. That’s why he’s to be reckoned with. Look out for their grip! It’s easy to laugh, but don’t mistake me. It doesn’t do to despise a Forsyte; it doesn’t do to disregard them!”

“Yet you’ve done it yourself!”

Young Jolyon acknowledged the hit by losing his smile.

“You forget,” he said with a queer pride, “I can hold on, too– I’m a Forsyte myself. We’re all in the path of great forces. The man who leaves the shelter of the wall–well–you know what I mean. I don’t,” he ended very low, as though uttering a threat, “recommend every man to-go-my-way. It depends.”

The colour rushed into Bosinney’s face, but soon receded, leaving it sallow-brown as before. He gave a short laugh, that left his lips fixed in a queer, fierce smile; his eyes mocked young Jolyon.

“Thanks,” he said. “It’s deuced kind of you. But you’re not the only chaps that can hold on.” He rose.

Young Jolyon looked after him as he walked away, and, resting his head on his hand, sighed.

In the drowsy, almost empty room the only sounds were the rustle of newspapers, the scraping of matches being struck. He stayed a long time without moving, living over again those days when he, too, had sat long hours watching the clock, waiting for the minutes to pass–long hours full of the torments of uncertainty, and of a fierce, sweet aching; and the slow, delicious agony of that season came back to him with its old poignancy. The sight of Bosinney, with his haggard face, and his restless eyes always wandering to the clock, had roused in him a pity, with which was mingled strange, irresistible envy.

He knew the signs so well. Whither was he going–to what sort of fate? What kind of woman was it who was drawing him to her by that magnetic force which no consideration of honour, no principle, no interest could withstand; from which the only escape was flight.

Flight! But why should Bosinney fly? A man fled when he was in danger of destroying hearth and home, when there were children, when he felt himself trampling down ideals, breaking something. But here, so he had heard, it was all broken to his hand.

He himself had not fled, nor would he fly if it were all to come over again. Yet he had gone further than Bosinney, had broken up his own unhappy home, not someone else’s: And the old saying came back to him: ‘A man’s fate lies in his own heart.’

In his own heart! The proof of the pudding was in the eating– Bosinney had still to eat his pudding.

His thoughts passed to the woman, the woman whom he did not know, but the outline of whose story he had heard.

An unhappy marriage! No ill-treatment–only that indefinable malaise, that terrible blight which killed all sweetness under Heaven; and so from day to day, from night to night, from week to week, from year to year, till death should end it.

But young Jolyon, the bitterness of whose own feelings time had assuaged, saw Soames’ side of the question too. Whence should a man like his cousin, saturated with all the prejudices and beliefs of his class, draw the insight or inspiration necessary to break up this life? It was a question of imagination, of projecting himself into the future beyond the unpleasant gossip, sneers, and tattle that followed on such separations, beyond the passing pangs that the lack of the sight of her would cause, beyond the grave disapproval of the worthy. But few men, and especially few men of Soames’ class, had imagination enough for that. A deal of mortals in this world, and not enough imagination to go round! And sweet Heaven, what a difference between theory and practice; many a man, perhaps even Soames, held chivalrous views on such matters, who when the shoe pinched found a distinguishing factor that made of himself an exception.

Then, too, he distrusted his judgment. He had been through the experience himself, had tasted too the dregs the bitterness of an unhappy marriage, and how could he take the wide and dispassionate view of those who had never been within sound of the battle? His evidence was too first-hand–like the evidence on military matters of a soldier who has been through much active service, against that of civilians who have not suffered the disadvantage of seeing things too close. Most people would consider such a marriage as that of Soames and Irene quite fairly successful; he had money, she had beauty; it was a case for compromise. There was no reason why they should not jog along, even if they hated each other. It would not matter if they went their own ways a little so long as the decencies were observed–the sanctity of the marriage tie, of the common home, respected. Half the marriages of the upper classes were conducted on these lines: Do not offend the susceptibilities of Society; do not offend the susceptibilities of the Church. To avoid offending these is worth the sacrifice of any private feelings. The advantages of the stable home are visible, tangible, so many pieces of property; there is no risk in the statu quo. To break up a home is at the best a dangerous experiment, and selfish into the bargain.

This was the case for the defence, and young Jolyon sighed.

‘The core of it all,’ he thought, ‘is property, but there are many people who would not like it put that way. To them it is “the sanctity of the marriage tie”; but the sanctity of the marriage tie is dependent on the sanctity of the family, and the sanctity of the family is dependent on the sanctity of property. And yet I imagine all these people are followers of One who never owned anything. It is curious!

And again young Jolyon sighed.

‘Am I going on my way home to ask any poor devils I meet to share my dinner, which will then be too little for myself, or, at all events, for my wife, who is necessary to my health and happiness? It may be that after all Soames does well to exercise his rights and support by his practice the sacred principle of property which benefits us all, with the exception of those who suffer by the process.’

And so he left his chair, threaded his way through the maze of seats, took his hat, and languidly up the hot streets crowded with carriages, reeking with dusty odours, wended his way home.

Before reaching Wistaria Avenue he removed old Jolyon’s letter from his pocket, and tearing it carefully into tiny pieces, scattered them in the dust of the road.

He let himself in with his key, and called his wife’s name. But she had gone out, taking Jolly and Holly, and the house was empty; alone in the garden the dog Balthasar lay in the shade snapping at flies.

Young Jolyon took his seat there, too, under the pear-tree that bore no fruit.



The day after the evening at Richmond Soames returned from Henley by a morning train. Not constitutionally interested in amphibious sports, his visit had been one of business rather than pleasure, a client of some importance having asked him down.

He went straight to the City, but finding things slack, he left at three o’clock, glad of this chance to get home quietly. Irene did not expect him. Not that he had any desire to spy on her actions, but there was no harm in thus unexpectedly surveying the scene.

After changing to Park clothes he went into the drawing-room. She was sitting idly in the corner of the sofa, her favourite seat; and there were circles under her eyes, as though she had not slept.

He asked: “How is it you’re in? Are you expecting somebody?”

“Yes that is, not particularly.”


“Mr. Bosinney said he might come.”

“Bosinney. He ought to be at work.”

To this she made no answer.

“Well,” said Soames, “I want you to come out to the Stores with me, and after that we’ll go to the Park.”

“I don’t want to go out; I have a headache.”

Soames replied: “If ever I want you to do anything, you’ve always got a headache. It’ll do you good to come and sit under the trees.”

She did not answer.

Soames was silent for some minutes; at last he said: “I don’t know what your idea of a wife’s duty is. I never have known!”

He had not expected her to reply, but she did.

“I have tried to do what you want; it’s not my fault that I haven’t been able to put my heart into it.”

“Whose fault is it, then?” He watched her askance.

“Before we were married you promised to let me go if our marriage was not a success. Is it a success?”

Soames frowned.

“Success,” he stammered–“it would be a success if you behaved yourself properly!”

“I have tried,” said Irene. “Will you let me go?”

Soames turned away. Secretly alarmed, he took refuge in bluster.

“Let you go? You don’t know what you’re talking about. Let you go? How can I let you go? We’re married, aren’t we? Then, what are you talking about? For God’s sake, don’t let’s have any of this sort of nonsense! Get your hat on, and come and sit in the Park.”

“Then, you won’t let me go?”

He felt her eyes resting on him with a strange, touching look.

“Let you go!” he said; “and what on earth would you do with yourself if I did? You’ve got no money!”

“I could manage somehow.”

He took a swift turn up and down the room; then came and stood before her.

“Understand,” he said, “once and for all, I won’t have you say this sort of thing. Go and get your hat on!”

She did not move.

“I suppose,” said Soames, “you don’t want to miss Bosinney if he comes!”

Irene got up slowly and left the room. She came down with her hat on.

They went out.

In the Park, the motley hour of mid-afternoon, when foreigners and other pathetic folk drive, thinking themselves to be in fashion, had passed; the right, the proper, hour had come, was nearly gone, before Soames and Irene seated themselves under the Achilles statue.

It was some time since he had enjoyed her company in the Park. That was one of the past delights of the first two seasons of his married life, when to feel himself the possessor of this gracious creature before all London had been his greatest, though secret, pride. How many afternoons had he not sat beside her, extremely neat, with light grey gloves and faint, supercilious smile, nodding to acquaintances, and now and again removing his hat.

His light grey gloves were still on his hands, and on his lips his smile sardonic, but where the feeling in his heart?

The seats were emptying fast, but still he kept her there, silent and pale, as though to work out a secret punishment. Once or twice he made some comment, and she bent her head, or answered “Yes” with a tired smile.

Along the rails a man was walking so fast that people stared after him when he passed.

“Look at that ass!” said Soames; “he must be mad to walk like that in this heat!”

He turned; Irene had made a rapid movement.

“Hallo!” he said: “it’s our friend the Buccaneer!”

And he sat still, with his sneering smile, conscious that Irene was sitting still, and smiling too.

“Will she bow to him?” he thought.

But she made no sign.

Bosinney reached the end of the rails, and came walking back amongst the chairs, quartering his ground like a pointer. When he saw them he stopped dead, and raised his hat.

The smile never left Soames’ face; he also took off his hat.

Bosinney came up, looking exhausted, like a man after hard physical exercise; the sweat stood in drops on his brow, and Soames’ smile seemed to say: “You’ve had a trying time, my friend ……What are you doing in the Park?” he asked. “We thought you despised such frivolity!”

Bosinney did not seem to hear; he made his answer to Irene: “I’ve been round to your place; I hoped I should find you in.”

Somebody tapped Soames on the back, and spoke to him; and in the exchange of those platitudes over his shoulder, he missed her answer, and took a resolution.

“We’re just going in,” he said to Bosinney; “you’d better come back to dinner with us.” Into that invitation he put a strange bravado, a stranger pathos: “You, can’t deceive me,” his look and voice seemed saying, “but see–I trust you–I’m not afraid of you!”

They started back to Montpellier Square together, Irene between them. In the crowded streets Soames went on in front. He did not listen to their conversation; the strange resolution of trustfulness he had taken seemed to animate even his secret conduct. Like a gambler, he said to himself: ‘It’s a card I dare not throw away–I must play it for what it’s worth. I have not too many chances.’

He dressed slowly, heard her leave her room and go downstairs, and, for full five minutes after, dawdled about in his dressing- room. Then he went down, purposely shutting the door loudly to show that he was coming. He found them standing by the hearth, perhaps talking, perhaps not; he could not say.

He played his part out in the farce, the long evening through– his manner to his guest more friendly than it had ever been before; and when at last Bosinney went, he said: “You must come again soon; Irene likes to have you to talk about the house!” Again his voice had the strange bravado and the stranger pathos; but his hand was cold as ice.

Loyal to his resolution, he turned away from their parting, turned away from his wife as she stood under the hanging lamp to say good-night–away from the sight of her golden head shining so under the light, of her smiling mournful lips; away from the sight of Bosinney’s eyes looking at her, so like a dog’s looking at its master.

And he went to bed with the certainty that Bosinney was in love with his wife.

The summer night was hot, so hot and still that through every opened window came in but hotter air. For long hours he lay listening to her breathing.

She could sleep, but he must lie awake. And, lying awake, he hardened himself to play the part of the serene and trusting husband.

In the small hours he slipped out of bed, and passing into his dressing-room, leaned by the open window.

He could hardly breathe.

A night four years ago came back to him–the night but one before his marriage; as hot and stifling as this.

He remembered how he had lain in a long cane chair in the window of his sitting-room off Victoria Street. Down below in a side street a man had banged at a door, a woman had cried out; he remembered, as though it were now, the sound of the scuffle, the slam of the door, the dead silence that followed. And then the early water-cart, cleansing the reek of the streets, had approached through the strange-seeming, useless lamp-light; he seemed to hear again its rumble, nearer and nearer, till it passed and slowly died away.

He leaned far out of the dressing-room window over the little court below, and saw the first light spread. The outlines of dark walls and roofs were blurred for a moment, then came out sharper than before.

He remembered how that other night he had watched the lamps paling all the length of Victoria Street; how he had hurried on his clothes and gone down into the street, down past houses and squares, to the street where she was staying, and there had stood and looked at the front of the little house, as still and grey as the face of a dead man.

And suddenly it shot through his mind; like a sick man’s fancy: What’s he doing?–that fellow who haunts me, who was here this evening, who’s in love with my wife–prowling out there, perhaps, looking for her as I know he was looking for her this afternoon; watching my house now, for all I can tell!

He stole across the landing to the front of the house, stealthily drew aside a blind, and raised a window.

The grey light clung about the trees of the square, as though Night, like a great downy moth, had brushed them with her wings. The lamps were still alight, all pale, but not a soul stirred–no living thing in sight

Yet suddenly, very faint, far off in the deathly stillness, he heard a cry writhing, like the voice of some wandering soul barred out of heaven, and crying for its happiness. There it was again–again! Soames shut the window, shuddering.

Then he thought: ‘Ah! it’s only the peacocks, across the water.’



Jolyon stood in the narrow hall at Broadstairs, inhaling that odour of oilcloth and herrings which permeates all respectable seaside lodging-houses. On a chair–a shiny leather chair, displaying its horsehair through a hole in the top left-hand corner–stood a black despatch case. This he was filling with papers, with the Times, and a bottle of Eau-de Cologne. He had meetings that day of the ‘Globular Gold Concessions’ and the ‘New Colliery Company, Limited,’ to which he was going up, for he never missed a Board; to ‘miss a Board’ would be one more piece of evidence that he was growing old, and this his jealous Forsyte spirit could not bear.

His eyes, as he filled that black despatch case, looked as if at any moment they might blaze up with anger. So gleams the eye of a schoolboy, baited by a ring of his companions; but he controls himself, deterred by the fearful odds against him. And old Jolyon controlled himself, keeping down, with his masterful restraint now slowly wearing out, the irritation fostered in him by the conditions of his life.

He had received from his son an unpractical letter, in which by rambling generalities the boy seemed trying to get out of answering a plain question. ‘I’ve seen Bosinney,’ he said; ‘he is not a criminal. The more I see of people the more I am convinced that they are never good or bad–merely comic, or pathetic. You probably don’t agree with me!’

Old Jolyon did not; he considered it cynical to so express oneself; he had not yet reached that point of old age when even Forsytes, bereft of those illusions and principles which they have cherished carefully for practical purposes but never believed in, bereft of all corporeal enjoyment, stricken to the very heart by having nothing left to hope for–break through the barriers of reserve and say things they would never have believed themselves capable of saying.

Perhaps he did not believe in ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’ any more than his son; but as he would have said: He didn’t know–couldn’t tell; there might be something in it; and why, by an unnecessary expression of disbelief, deprive yourself of possible advantage?

Accustomed to spend his holidays among the mountains, though (like a true Forsyte) he had never attempted anything too adventurous or too foolhardy, he had been passionately fond of them. And when the wonderful view (mentioned in Baedeker– ‘fatiguing but repaying’)–was disclosed to him after the effort of the climb, he had doubtless felt the existence of some great, dignified principle crowning the chaotic strivings, the petty precipices, and ironic little dark chasms of life. This was as near to religion, perhaps, as his practical spirit had ever gone.

But it was many years since he had been to the mountains. He had taken June there two seasons running, after his wife died, and had realized bitterly that his walking days were over.

To that old mountain–given confidence in a supreme order of things he had long been a stranger.

He knew himself to be old, yet he felt young; and this troubled him. It troubled and puzzled him, too, to think that he, who had always been so careful, should be father and grandfather to such as seemed born to disaster. He had nothing to say against Jo– who could say anything against the boy, an amiable chap?–but his position was deplorable, and this business of June’s nearly as bad. It seemed like a fatality, and a fatality was one of those things no man of his character could either understand or put up with.

In writing to his son he did not really hope that anything would come of it. Since the ball at Roger’s he had seen too clearly how the land lay–he could put two and two together quicker than most men–and, with the example of his own son before his eyes, knew better than any Forsyte of them all that the pale flame singes men’s wings whether they will or no.

In the days before June’s engagement, when she and Mrs. Soames were always together, he had seen enough of Irene to feel the spell she cast over men. She was not a flirt, not even a coquette–words dear to the heart of his generation, which loved to define things by a good, broad, inadequate word–but she was dangerous. He could not say why. Tell him of a quality innate in some women–a seductive power beyond their own control! He would but answer: ‘Humbug!’ She was dangerous, and there was an end of it. He wanted to close his eyes to that affair. If it was, it was; he did not want to hear any more about it–he only wanted to save June’s position and her peace of mind. He still hoped she might once more become a comfort to himself.

And so he had written. He got little enough out of the answer. As to what young Jolyon had made of the interview, there was practically only the queer sentence: ‘I gather that he’s in the stream.’ The stream! What stream? What was this new-fangled way of talking?

He sighed, and folded the last of the papers under the flap of the bag; he knew well enough what was meant.

June came out of the dining-room, and helped him on with his summer coat. From her costume, and the expression of her little resolute face, he saw at once what was coming.

“I’m going with you,” she said.

“Nonsense, my dear; I go straight into the City. I can’t have you racketting about!”

“I must see old Mrs. Smeech.”

“Oh, your precious ‘lame ducks!” grumbled out old Jolyon. He did not believe her excuse, but ceased his opposition. There was no doing anything with that pertinacity of hers.

At Victoria he put her into the carriage which had been ordered for himself–a characteristic action, for he had no petty selfishnesses.

“Now, don’t you go tiring yourself, my darling,” he said, and took a cab on into the city.

June went first to a back-street in Paddington, where Mrs. Smeech, her ‘lame duck,’ lived–an aged person, connected with the charring interest; but after half an hour spent in hearing her habitually lamentable recital, and dragooning her into temporary comfort, she went on to Stanhope Gate. The great house was closed and dark.

She had decided to learn something at all costs. It was better to face the worst, and have it over. And this was her plan: To go first to Phil’s aunt, Mrs. Baynes, and, failing information there, to Irene herself. She had no clear notion of what she would gain by these visits.

At three o’clock she was in Lowndes Square. With a woman’s instinct when trouble is to be faced, she had put on her best frock, and went to the battle with a glance as courageous as old Jolyon’s itself. Her tremors had passed into eagerness.

Mrs. Baynes, Bosinney’s aunt (Louisa was her name), was in her kitchen when June was announced, organizing the cook, for she was an excellent housewife, and, as Baynes always said, there was ‘a lot in a good dinner.’ He did his best work after dinner. It was Baynes who built that remarkably fine row of tall crimson houses in Kensington which compete with so many others for the title of ‘the ugliest in London.’

On hearing June’s name, she went hurriedly to her bedroom, and, taking two large bracelets from a red morocco case in a locked drawer, put them on her white wrists–for she possessed in a remarkable degree that ‘sense of property,’ which, as we know, is the touchstone of Forsyteism, and the foundation of good morality.

Her figure, of medium height and broad build, with a tendency to embonpoint, was reflected by the mirror of her whitewood wardrobe, in a gown made under her own organization, of one of those half-tints, reminiscent of the distempered walls of corridors in large hotels. She raised her hands to her hair, which she wore a la Princesse de Galles, and touched it here and there, settling it more firmly on her head, and her eyes were full of an unconscious realism, as though she were looking in the face one of life’s sordid facts, and making the best of it. In youth her cheeks had been of cream and roses, but they were mottled now by middle-age, and again that hard, ugly directness came into her eyes as she dabbed a powder-puff across her forehead. Putting the puff down, she stood quite still before the glass, arranging a smile over her high, important nose, her, chin, (never large, and now growing smaller with the increase of her neck), her thin-lipped, down-drooping mouth. Quickly, not to lose the effect, she grasped her skirts strongly in both hands, and went downstairs.

She had been hoping for this visit for some time past. Whispers had reached her that things were not all right between her nephew and his fiancee. Neither of them had been near her for weeks. She had asked Phil to dinner many times; his invariable answer had been ‘Too busy.’

Her instinct was alarmed, and the instinct in such matters of this excellent woman was keen. She ought to have been a Forsyte; in young Jolyon’s sense of the word, she certainly had that privilege, and merits description as such.

She had married off her three daughters in a way that people said was beyond their deserts, for they had the professional plainness only to be found, as a rule, among the female kind of the more legal callings. Her name was upon the committees of numberless charities connected with the Church-dances, theatricals, or bazaars–and she never lent her name unless sure beforehand that everything had been thoroughly organized.

She believed, as she often said, in putting things on a commercial basis; the proper function of the Church, of charity, indeed, of everything, was to strengthen the fabric of ‘Society.’ Individual action, therefore, she considered immoral. Organization was the only thing, for by organization alone could you feel sure that you were getting a return for your money. Organization–and again, organization! And there is no doubt that she was what old Jolyon called her–“a ‘dab’ at that”–he went further, he called her “a humbug.”

The enterprises to which she lent her name were organized so admirably that by the time the takings were handed over, they were indeed skim milk divested of all cream of human kindness. But as she often justly remarked, sentiment was to be deprecated. She was, in fact, a little academic.

This great and good woman, so highly thought of in ecclesiastical circles, was one of the principal priestesses in the temple of Forsyteism, keeping alive day and night a sacred flame to the God of Property, whose altar is inscribed with those inspiring words: ‘Nothing for nothing, and really remarkably little for sixpence.’

When she entered a room it was felt that something substantial had come in, which was probably the reason of her popularity as a patroness. People liked something substantial when they had paid money for it; and they would look at her–surrounded by her staff in charity ballrooms, with her high nose and her broad, square figure, attired in an uniform covered with sequins–as though she were a general.

The only thing against her was that she had not a double name. She was a power in upper middle-class society, with its hundred sets and circles, all intersecting on the common battlefield of charity functions, and on that battlefield brushing skirts so pleasantly with the skirts of Society with the capital ‘S.’ She was a power in society with the smaller ‘s,’ that larger, more significant, and more powerful body, where the commercially Christian institutions, maxims, and ‘principle,’ which Mrs. Baynes embodied, were real life-blood, circulating freely, real business currency, not merely the sterilized imitation that flowed in the veins of smaller Society with the larger ‘S.’ People who knew her felt her to be sound–a sound woman, who never gave herself away, nor anything else, if she could possibly help it.

She had been on the worst sort of terms with Bosinney’s father, who had not infrequently made her the object of an unpardonable ridicule. She alluded to him now that he was gone as her ‘poor, dear, irreverend brother.’

She greeted June with the careful effusion of which she was a mistress, a little afraid of her as far as a woman of her eminence in the commercial and Christian world could be afraid– for so slight a girl June had a great dignity, the fearlessness of her eyes gave her that. And Mrs. Baynes, too, shrewdly recognized that behind the uncompromising frankness of June’s manner there was much of the Forsyte. If the girl had been merely frank and courageous, Mrs. Baynes would have thought her ‘cranky,’ and despised her; if she had been merely a Forsyte, like Francie–let us say–she would have patronized her from sheer weight of metal; but June, small though she was–Mrs. Baynes habitually admired quantity–gave her an uneasy feeling; and she placed her in a chair opposite the light.

There was another reason for her respect which Mrs. Baynes, too good a churchwoman to be worldly, would have been the last to admit–she often heard her husband describe old Jolyon as extremely well off, and was biassed towards his granddaughter for the soundest of all reasons. To-day she felt the emotion with which we read a novel describing a hero and an inheritance, nervously anxious lest, by some frightful lapse of the novelist, the young man should be left without it at the end.

Her manner was warm; she had never seen so clearly before how distinguished and desirable a girl this was. She asked after old Jolyon’s health. A wonderful man for his age; so upright, and young looking, and how old was he? Eighty-one! She would never have thought it! They were at the sea! Very nice for them; she supposed June heard from Phil every day? Her light grey eyes became more prominent as she asked this question; but the girl met the glance without flinching.

“No,” she said, “he never writes!”

Mrs. Baynes’s eyes dropped; they had no intention of doing so, but they did. They recovered immediately.

“Of course not. That’s Phil all over–he was always like that!”

“Was he?” said June.

The brevity of the answer caused Mrs. Baynes’s bright smile a moment’s hesitation; she disguised it by a quick movement, and spreading her skirts afresh, said: “Why, my dear–he’s quite the most harum-scarum person; one never pays the slightest attention to what he does!”

The conviction came suddenly to June that she was wasting her time; even were she to put a question point-blank, she would never get anything out of this woman.

‘Do you see him?’ she asked, her face crimsoning.

The perspiration broke out on Mrs. Baynes’ forehead beneath the powder.

“Oh, yes! I don’t remember when he was here last–indeed, we haven’t seen much of him lately. He’s so busy with your cousin’s house; I’m told it’ll be finished directly. We must organize a little dinner to celebrate the event; do come and stay the night with us!”

“Thank you,” said June. Again she thought: ‘I’m only wasting my time. This woman will tell me nothing.’

She got up to go. A change came over Mrs. Baynes. She rose too; her lips twitched, she fidgeted her hands. Something was evidently very wrong, and she did not dare to ask this girl, who stood there, a slim, straight little figure, with her decided face, her set jaw, and resentful eyes. She was not accustomed to be afraid of asking question’s–all organization was based on the asking of questions!

But the issue was so grave that her nerve, normally strong, was fairly shaken; only that morning her husband had said: “Old Mr. Forsyte must be worth well over a hundred thousand pounds!”

And this girl stood there, holding out her hand–holding out her hand!

The chance might be slipping away–she couldn’t tell–the chance of keeping her in the family, and yet she dared not speak.

Her eyes followed June to the door.

It closed.

Then with an exclamation Mrs. Baynes ran forward, wobbling her bulky frame from side to side, and opened it again.

Too late! She heard the front door click, and stood still, an expression of real anger and mortification on her face.

June went along the Square with her bird-like quickness. She detested that woman now whom in happier days she had been accustomed to think so kind. Was she always to be put off thus, and forced to undergo this torturing suspense?

She would go to Phil himself, and ask him what he meant. She had the right to know. She hurried on down Sloane Street till she came to Bosinney’s number. Passing the swing-door at the bottom, she ran up the stairs, her heart thumping painfully.

At the top of the third flight she paused for breath, and holding on to the bannisters, stood listening. No sound came from above.

With a very white face she mounted the last flight. She saw the door, with his name on the plate. And the resolution that had brought her so far evaporated.

The full meaning of her conduct came to her. She felt hot all over; the palms of her hands were moist beneath the thin silk covering of her gloves.

She drew back to the stairs, but did not descend. Leaning against the rail she tried to get rid of a feeling of being choked; and she gazed at the door with a sort of dreadful courage. No! she refused to go down. Did it matter what people thought of her? They would never know! No one would help her if she did not help herself! She would go through with it.

Forcing herself, therefore, to leave the support of the wall, she rang the bell. The door did not open, and all her shame and fear suddenly abandoned her; she rang again and again, as though in spite of its emptiness she could drag some response out of that closed room, some recompense for the shame and fear that visit had cost her. It did not open; she left off ringing, and, sitting down at the top of the stairs, buried her face in her hands.

Presently she stole down, out into the air. She felt as though she had passed through a bad illness, and had no desire now but to get home as quickly as she could. The people she met seemed to know where she had been, what she had been doing; and suddenly–over on the opposite side, going towards his rooms from the direction of Montpellier Square–she saw Bosinney himself.

She made a movement to cross into the traffic. Their eyes met, and he raised his hat. An omnibus passed, obscuring her view; then, from the edge of the pavement, through a gap in the traffic, she saw him walking on.

And June stood motionless, looking after him.



‘One mockturtle, clear; one oxtail; two glasses of port.’

In the upper room at French’s, where a Forsyte could still get heavy English food, James and his son were sitting down to lunch.

Of all eating-places James liked best to come here; there was something unpretentious, well-flavoured, and filling about it, and though he had been to a certain extent corrupted by the necessity for being fashionable, and the trend of habits keeping pace with an income that would increase, he still hankered in quiet City moments after the tasty fleshpots of his earlier days. Here you were served by hairy English waiters in aprons; there was sawdust on the floor, and three round gilt looking-glasses hung just above the line of sight. They had only recently done away with the cubicles, too, in which you could have your chop, prime chump, with a floury-potato, without seeing your neighbours, like a gentleman.

He tucked the top corner of his napkin behind the third button of his waistcoat, a practice he had been obliged to abandon years ago in the West End. He felt that he should relish his soup–the entire morning had been given to winding up the estate of an old friend.