Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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CHAPTER IV

SOHO

Of all quarters in the queer adventurous amalgam called London, Soho is perhaps least suited to the Forsyte spirit.  ‘So-ho, my wild one!’ George would have said if he had seen his cousin going there.  Untidy, full of Greeks, Ishmaelites, cats, Italians, tomatoes, restaurants, organs, coloured stuffs, queer names, people looking out of upper windows, it dwells remote from the British Body Politic.  Yet has it haphazard proprietary instincts of its own, and a certain possessive prosperity which keeps its rents up when those of other quarters go down.  For long years Soames’ acquaintanceship with Soho had been confined to its Western bastion, Wardour Street.  Many bargains had he picked up there.  Even during those seven years at Brighton after Bosinney’s death and Irene’s flight, he had bought treasures there sometimes, though he had no place to put them; for when the conviction that his wife had gone for good at last became firm within him, he had caused a board to be put up in Montpellier Square: 

For sale
the lease of this desirable residence

Enquire of Messrs. Lesson and Tukes,
Court Street, Belgravia.

It had sold within a week—­that desirable residence, in the shadow of whose perfection a man and a woman had eaten their hearts out.

Of a misty January evening, just before the board was taken down, Soames had gone there once more, and stood against the Square railings, looking at its unlighted windows, chewing the cud of possessive memories which had turned so bitter in the mouth.  Why had she never loved him?  Why?  She had been given all she had wanted, and in return had given him, for three long years, all he had wanted—­except, indeed, her heart.  He had uttered a little involuntary groan, and a passing policeman had glanced suspiciously at him who no longer possessed the right to enter that green door with the carved brass knocker beneath the board ‘For Sale!’ A choking sensation had attacked his throat, and he had hurried away into the mist.  That evening he had gone to Brighton to live....

Approaching Malta Street, Soho, and the Restaurant Bretagne, where Annette would be drooping her pretty shoulders over her accounts, Soames thought with wonder of those seven years at Brighton.  How had he managed to go on so long in that town devoid of the scent of sweetpeas, where he had not even space to put his treasures?  True, those had been years with no time at all for looking at them—­years of almost passionate money-making, during which Forsyte, Bustard and Forsyte had become solicitors to more limited Companies than they could properly attend to.  Up to the City of a morning in a Pullman car, down from the City of an evening in a Pullman car.  Law papers again after dinner, then the sleep of the tired, and up again next morning.  Saturday to

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