But up in her room, divested of her habit, Holly was still frowning. ’He is not—he is not!’ were the words which kept forming on her lips.
JOLYON IN TWO MINDS
A little private hotel over a well-known restaurant near the Gare St. Lazare was Jolyon’s haunt in Paris. He hated his fellow Forsytes abroad—vapid as fish out of water in their well-trodden runs, the Opera, Rue de Rivoli, and Moulin Rouge. Their air of having come because they wanted to be somewhere else as soon as possible annoyed him. But no other Forsyte came near this haunt, where he had a wood fire in his bedroom and the coffee was excellent. Paris was always to him more attractive in winter. The acrid savour from woodsmoke and chestnut-roasting braziers, the sharpness of the wintry sunshine on bright rays, the open cafes defying keen-aired winter, the self-contained brisk boulevard crowds, all informed him that in winter Paris possessed a soul which, like a migrant bird, in high summer flew away.
He spoke French well, had some friends, knew little places where pleasant dishes could be met with, queer types observed. He felt philosophic in Paris, the edge of irony sharpened; life took on a subtle, purposeless meaning, became a bunch of flavours tasted, a darkness shot with shifting gleams of light.
When in the first week of December he decided to go to Paris, he was far from admitting that Irene’s presence was influencing him. He had not been there two days before he owned that the wish to see her had been more than half the reason. In England one did not admit what was natural. He had thought it might be well to speak to her about the letting of her flat and other matters, but in Paris he at once knew better. There was a glamour over the city. On the third day he wrote to her, and received an answer which procured him a pleasurable shiver of the nerves: “My dear Jolyon,
“It will be a happiness for me to see you.
He took his way to her hotel on a bright day with a feeling such as he had often had going to visit an adored picture. No woman, so far as he remembered, had ever inspired in him this special sensuous and yet impersonal sensation. He was going to sit and feast his eyes, and come away knowing her no better, but ready to go and feast his eyes again to-morrow. Such was his feeling, when in the tarnished and ornate little lounge of a quiet hotel near the river she came to him preceded by a small page-boy who uttered the word, “Madame,” and vanished. Her face, her smile, the poise of her figure, were just as he had pictured, and the expression of her face said plainly: ‘A friend!’
“Well,” he said, “what news, poor exile?”
“Nothing from Soames?”
“I have let the flat for you, and like a good steward I bring you some money. How do you like Paris?”