“Young people will think as I do when they’re my age, Mr. Mont. Human nature doesn’t change.”
“I admit that, sir; but the forms of thought change with the times. The pursuit of self-interest is a form of thought that’s going out.”
“Indeed! To mind one’s own business is not a form of thought, Mr. Mont, it’s an instinct.”
Yes, when Jon was the business!
“But what is one’s business, sir? That’s the point. Everybody’s business is going to be one’s business. Isn’t it, Fleur?”
Fleur only smiled.
“If not,” added young Mont, “there’ll be blood.”
“People have talked like that from time immemorial”
“But you’ll admit, sir, that the sense of property is dying out?”
“I should say increasing among those who have none.”
“Well, look at me! I’m heir to an entailed estate. I don’t want the thing; I’d cut the entail to-morrow.”
“You’re not married, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Fleur saw the young man’s eyes turn rather piteously upon her.
“Do you really mean that marriage—?” he began.
“Society is built on marriage,” came from between her father’s close lips; “marriage and its consequences. Do you want to do away with it?”
Young Mont made a distracted gesture. Silence brooded over the dinner table, covered with spoons bearing the Forsyte crest—a pheasant proper—under the electric light in an alabaster globe. And outside, the river evening darkened, charged with heavy moisture and sweet scents.
‘Monday,’ thought Fleur; ‘Monday!’
The weeks which followed the death of his father were sad and empty to the only Jolyon Forsyte left. The necessary forms and ceremonies —the reading of the Will, valuation of the estate, distribution of the legacies—were enacted over the head, as it were, of one not yet of age. Jolyon was cremated. By his special wish no one attended that ceremony, or wore black for him. The succession of his property, controlled to some extent by old Jolyon’s Will, left his widow in possession of Robin Hill, with two thousand five hundred pounds a year for life. Apart from this the two Wills worked together in some complicated way to insure that each of Jolyon’s three children should have an equal share in their grandfather’s and father’s property in the future as in the present, save only that Jon, by virtue of his sex, would have control of his capital when he was twenty-one, while June and Holly would only have the spirit of theirs, in order that their children might have the body after them. If they had no children, it would all come to Jon if he outlived them; and since June was fifty, and Holly nearly forty, it was considered in Lincoln’s Inn Fields that but for the cruelty of income tax, young Jon would be as warm a man as his grandfather