‘Cantankerous chap Roger—always was!’
There was little sentimentality about the Forsytes. In that great London, which they had conquered and become merged in, what time had they to be sentimental?
OLD JOLYON GOES TO THE OPERA
At five o’clock the following day old Jolyon sat alone, a cigar between his lips, and on a table by his side a cup of tea. He was tired, and before he had finished his cigar he fell asleep. A fly settled on his hair, his breathing sounded heavy in the drowsy silence, his upper lip under the white moustache puffed in and out. From between the fingers of his veined and wrinkled hand the cigar, dropping on the empty hearth, burned itself out.
The gloomy little study, with windows of stained glass to exclude the view, was full of dark green velvet and heavily-carved mahogany—a suite of which old Jolyon was wont to say: ’Shouldn’t wonder if it made a big price some day!’
It was pleasant to think that in the after life he could get more for things than he had given.
In the rich brown atmosphere peculiar to back rooms in the mansion of a Forsyte, the Rembrandtesque effect of his great head, with its white hair, against the cushion of his high-backed seat, was spoiled by the moustache, which imparted a somewhat military look to his face. An old clock that had been with him since before his marriage forty years ago kept with its ticking a jealous record of the seconds slipping away forever from its old master.
He had never cared for this room, hardly going into it from one year’s end to another, except to take cigars from the Japanese cabinet in the corner, and the room now had its revenge.
His temples, curving like thatches over the hollows beneath, his cheek-bones and chin, all were sharpened in his sleep, and there had come upon his face the confession that he was an old man.
He woke. June had gone! James had said he would be lonely. James had always been a poor thing. He recollected with satisfaction that he had bought that house over James’s head.
Serve him right for sticking at the price; the only thing the fellow thought of was money. Had he given too much, though? It wanted a lot of doing to—He dared say he would want all his money before he had done with this affair of June’s. He ought never to have allowed the engagement. She had met this Bosinney at the house of Baynes, Baynes and Bildeboy, the architects. He believed that Baynes, whom he knew—a bit of an old woman—was the young man’s uncle by marriage. After that she’d been always running after him; and when she took a thing into her head there was no stopping her. She was continually taking up with ’lame ducks’ of one sort or another. This fellow had no money, but she must needs become engaged to him—a harumscarum, unpractical chap, who would get himself into no end of difficulties.