Yet, within a week of Mrs. MacAnder’s encounter in Richmond Park, to all of them—save Timothy, from whom it was carefully kept—to James on his domestic beat from the Poultry to Park Lane, to George the wild one, on his daily adventure from the bow window at the Haversnake to the billiard room at the ‘Red Pottle,’ was it known that ‘those two’ had gone to extremes.
George (it was he who invented many of those striking expressions still current in fashionable circles) voiced the sentiment more accurately than any one when he said to his brother Eustace that ‘the Buccaneer’ was ‘going it’; he expected Soames was about ‘fed up.’
It was felt that he must be, and yet, what could be done? He ought perhaps to take steps; but to take steps would be deplorable.
Without an open scandal which they could not see their way to recommending, it was difficult to see what steps could be taken. In this impasse, the only thing was to say nothing to Soames, and nothing to each other; in fact, to pass it over.
By displaying towards Irene a dignified coldness, some impression might be made upon her; but she was seldom now to be seen, and there seemed a slight difficulty in seeking her out on purpose to show her coldness. Sometimes in the privacy of his bedroom James would reveal to Emily the real suffering that his son’s misfortune caused him.
“I can’t tell,” he would say; “it worries me out of my life. There’ll be a scandal, and that’ll do him no good. I shan’t say anything to him. There might be nothing in it. What do you think? She’s very artistic, they tell me. What? Oh, you’re a ’regular Juley! Well, I don’t know; I expect the worst. This is what comes of having no children. I knew how it would be from the first. They never told me they didn’t mean to have any children—nobody tells me anything!”
On his knees by the side of the bed, his eyes open and fixed with worry, he would breathe into the counterpane. Clad in his nightshirt, his neck poked forward, his back rounded, he resembled some long white bird.
“Our Father-,” he repeated, turning over and over again the thought of this possible scandal.
Like old Jolyon, he, too, at the bottom of his heart set the blame of the tragedy down to family interference. What business had that lot—he began to think of the Stanhope Gate branch, including young Jolyon and his daughter, as ’that lot’—to introduce a person like this Bosinney into the family? (He had heard George’s soubriquet, ‘The Buccaneer,’ but he could make nothing of that—the young man was an architect.)
He began to feel that his brother Jolyon, to whom he had always looked up and on whose opinion he had relied, was not quite what he had expected.