“Can’t you see your way to do it for eight thousand after all? There must be a lot of little things you could alter.”
Bosinney drank off his tea at a gulp, put down his cup, and answered:
Soames saw that his suggestion had touched some unintelligible point of personal vanity.
“Well,” he agreed, with sulky resignation; “you must have it your own way, I suppose.”
A few minutes later Bosinney rose to go, and Soames rose too, to see him off the premises. The architect seemed in absurdly high spirits. After watching him walk away at a swinging pace, Soames returned moodily to the drawing-room, where Irene was putting away the music, and, moved by an uncontrollable spasm of curiosity, he asked:
“Well, what do you think of ’The Buccaneer’?”
He looked at the carpet while waiting for her answer, and he had to wait some time.
“I don’t know,” she said at last.
“Do you think he’s good-looking?”
Irene smiled. And it seemed to Soames that she was mocking him.
“Yes,” she answered; “very.”
DEATH OF AUNT ANN
There came a morning at the end of September when Aunt Ann was unable to take from Smither’s hands the insignia of personal dignity. After one look at the old face, the doctor, hurriedly sent for, announced that Miss Forsyte had passed away in her sleep.
Aunts Juley and Hester were overwhelmed by the shock. They had never imagined such an ending. Indeed, it is doubtful whether they had ever realized that an ending was bound to come. Secretly they felt it unreasonable of Ann to have left them like this without a word, without even a struggle. It was unlike her.
Perhaps what really affected them so profoundly was the thought that a Forsyte should have let go her grasp on life. If one, then why not all!
It was a full hour before they could make up their minds to tell Timothy. If only it could be kept from him! If only it could be broken to him by degrees!
And long they stood outside his door whispering together. And when it was over they whispered together again.
He would feel it more, they were afraid, as time went on. Still, he had taken it better than could have been expected. He would keep his bed, of course!
They separated, crying quietly.
Aunt Juley stayed in her room, prostrated by the blow. Her face, discoloured by tears, was divided into compartments by the little ridges of pouting flesh which had swollen with emotion. It was impossible to conceive of life without Ann, who had lived with her for seventy-three years, broken only by the short interregnum of her married life, which seemed now so unreal. At fixed intervals she went to her drawer, and took from beneath the lavender bags a fresh pocket-handkerchief. Her warm heart could not bear the thought that Ann was lying there so cold.