“Before the Long Vacation; it’s not defended.”
James’ lips moved in secret calculation. “I shan’t live to see my grandson,” he muttered.
Emily ceased brushing. “Of course you will, James. Soames will be as quick as he can.”
There was a long silence, till James reached out his arm.
“Here! let’s have the eau-de-Cologne,” and, putting it to his nose, he moved his forehead in the direction of his son. Soames bent over and kissed that brow just where the hair began. A relaxing quiver passed over James’ face, as though the wheels of anxiety within were running down.
“I’ll get to bed,” he said; “I shan’t want to see the papers when that comes. They’re a morbid lot; I can’t pay attention to them, I’m too old.”
Queerly affected, Soames went to the door; he heard his father say:
“Here, I’m tired. I’ll say a prayer in bed.”
And his mother answering
“That’s right, James; it’ll be ever so much more comfy.”
OUT OF THE WEB
On Forsyte ’Change the announcement of Jolly’s death, among a batch of troopers, caused mixed sensation. Strange to read that Jolyon Forsyte (fifth of the name in direct descent) had died of disease in the service of his country, and not be able to feel it personally. It revived the old grudge against his father for having estranged himself. For such was still the prestige of old Jolyon that the other Forsytes could never quite feel, as might have been expected, that it was they who had cut off his descendants for irregularity. The news increased, of course, the interest and anxiety about Val; but then Val’s name was Dartie, and even if he were killed in battle or got the Victoria Cross, it would not be at all the same as if his name were Forsyte. Not even casualty or glory to the Haymans would be really satisfactory. Family pride felt defrauded.
How the rumour arose, then, that ‘something very dreadful, my dear,’ was pending, no one, least of all Soames, could tell, secret as he kept everything. Possibly some eye had seen ‘Forsyte v. Forsyte and Forsyte,’ in the cause list; and had added it to ’Irene in Paris with a fair beard.’ Possibly some wall at Park Lane had ears. The fact remained that it was known—whispered among the old, discussed among the young—that family pride must soon receive a blow.
Soames, paying one, of his Sunday visits to Timothy’s—paying it with the feeling that after the suit came on he would be paying no more—felt knowledge in the air as he came in. Nobody, of course, dared speak of it before him, but each of the four other Forsytes present held their breath, aware that nothing could prevent Aunt Juley from making them all uncomfortable. She looked so piteously at Soames, she checked herself on the point of speech so often, that Aunt Hester excused herself and said she must go and bathe Timothy’s eye—he had a sty coming. Soames, impassive, slightly supercilious, did not stay long. He went out with a curse stifled behind his pale, just smiling lips.