“Well, have you had enough?”
“One more, Father, please.”
She would be sick! He went to the counter to pay. When he turned round again he saw Fleur standing near the door, holding a handkerchief which the boy had evidently just handed to her.
“F. F.,” he heard her say. “Fleur Forsyte—it’s mine all right. Thank you ever so.”
Good God! She had caught the trick from what he’d told her in the Gallery—monkey!
“Forsyte? Why—that’s my name too. Perhaps we’re cousins.”
“Really! We must be. There aren’t any others. I live at Mapledurham; where do you?”
Question and answer had been so rapid that all was over before he could lift a finger. He saw Irene’s face alive with startled feeling, gave the slightest shake of his head, and slipped his arm through Fleur’s.
“Come along!” he said.
She did not move.
“Didn’t you hear, Father? Isn’t it queer—our name’s the same. Are we cousins?”
“What’s that?” he said. “Forsyte? Distant, perhaps.”
“My name’s Jolyon, sir. Jon, for short.”
“Oh! Ah!” said Soames. “Yes. Distant. How are you? Very good of you. Good-bye!”
He moved on.
“Thanks awfully,” Fleur was saying. “Au revoir!”
“Au revoir!” he heard the boy reply.
FINE FLEUR FORSYTE
Emerging from the “pastry-cook’s,” Soames’ first impulse was to vent his nerves by saying to his daughter: ‘Dropping your hand-kerchief!’ to which her reply might well be: ‘I picked that up from you!’ His second impulse therefore was to let sleeping dogs lie. But she would surely question him. He gave her a sidelong look, and found she was giving him the same. She said softly:
“Why don’t you like those cousins, Father?” Soames lifted the corner of his lip.
“What made you think that?”
“Cela se voit.”
‘That sees itself!’ What a way of putting it! After twenty years of a French wife Soames had still little sympathy with her language; a theatrical affair and connected in his mind with all the refinements of domestic irony.
“How?” he asked.
“You must know them; and you didn’t make a sign. I saw them looking at you.”
“I’ve never seen the boy in my life,” replied Soames with perfect truth.
“No; but you’ve seen the others, dear.”
Soames gave her another look. What had she picked up? Had her Aunt Winifred, or Imogen, or Val Dartie and his wife, been talking? Every breath of the old scandal had been carefully kept from her at home, and Winifred warned many times that he wouldn’t have a whisper of it reach her for the world. So far as she ought to know, he had never been married before. But her dark eyes, whose southern glint and clearness often almost frightened him, met his with perfect innocence.