Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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They could perfectly well defend this suit, or at least in good faith try to.  But the idea of doing so revolted Jolyon.  If not her lover in deed he was in desire, and he knew that she was ready to come to him.  Her face had told him so.  Not that he exaggerated her feeling for him.  She had had her grand passion, and he could not expect another from her at his age.  But she had trust in him, affection for him, and must feel that he would be a refuge.  Surely she would not ask him to defend the suit, knowing that he adored her!  Thank Heaven she had not that maddening British conscientiousness which refused happiness for the sake of refusing!  She must rejoice at this chance of being free after seventeen years of death in life!  As to publicity, the fat was in the fire!  To defend the suit would not take away the slur.  Jolyon had all the proper feeling of a Forsyte whose privacy is threatened:  If he was to be hung by the Law, by all means let it be for a sheep!  Moreover the notion of standing in a witness box and swearing to the truth that no gesture, not even a word of love had passed between them seemed to him more degrading than to take the tacit stigma of being an adulterer—­more truly degrading, considering the feeling in his heart, and just as bad and painful for his children.  The thought of explaining away, if he could, before a judge and twelve average Englishmen, their meetings in Paris, and the walks in Richmond Park, horrified him.  The brutality and hypocritical censoriousness of the whole process; the probability that they would not be believed—­the mere vision of her, whom he looked on as the embodiment of Nature and of Beauty, standing there before all those suspicious, gloating eyes was hideous to him.  No, no!  To defend a suit only made a London holiday, and sold the newspapers.  A thousand times better accept what Soames and the gods had sent!

‘Besides,’ he thought honestly, ’who knows whether, even for my boy’s sake, I could have stood this state of things much longer?  Anyway, her neck will be out of chancery at last!’ Thus absorbed, he was hardly conscious of the heavy heat.  The sky had become overcast, purplish with little streaks of white.  A heavy heat-drop plashed a little star pattern in the dust of the road as he entered the Park.  ‘Phew!’ he thought, ‘thunder!  I hope she’s not come to meet me; there’s a ducking up there!’ But at that very minute he saw Irene coming towards the Gate.  ’We must scuttle back to Robin Hill,’ he thought.

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The storm had passed over the Poultry at four o’clock, bringing welcome distraction to the clerks in every office.  Soames was drinking a cup of tea when a note was brought in to him: 

Dear sir,

“Forsyte v.  Forsyte and Forsyte

“In accordance with your instructions, we beg to inform you that we personally served the respondent and co-respondent in this suit to-day, at Richmond, and Robin Hill, respectively.  “Faithfully yours, “Linkman and Laver.”

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