It did not occur to him to wonder what Bosinney had done after they had left him there alone; whether he had gone wandering about like the dog to which Swithin had compared him; wandering down to that copse where the spring was still in riot, the cuckoo still calling from afar; gone down there with her handkerchief pressed to lips, its fragrance mingling with the scent of mint and thyme. Gone down there with such a wild, exquisite pain in his heart that he could have cried out among the trees. Or what, indeed, the fellow had done. In fact, till he came to Timothy’s, Swithin had forgotten all about him.
JAMES GOES TO SEE FOR HIMSELF
Those ignorant of Forsyte ’Change would not, perhaps, foresee all the stir made by Irene’s visit to the house.
After Swithin had related at Timothy’s the full story of his memorable drive, the same, with the least suspicion of curiosity, the merest touch of malice, and a real desire to do good, was passed on to June.
“And what a dreadful thing to say, my dear!” ended Aunt Juley; “that about not going home. What did she mean?”
It was a strange recital for the girl. She heard it flushing painfully, and, suddenly, with a curt handshake, took her departure.
“Almost rude!” Mrs. Small said to Aunt Hester, when June was gone.
The proper construction was put on her reception of the news. She was upset. Something was therefore very wrong. Odd! She and Irene had been such friends!
It all tallied too well with whispers and hints that had been going about for some time past. Recollections of Euphemia’s account of the visit to the theatre—Mr. Bosinney always at Soames’s? Oh, indeed! Yes, of course, he would be about the house! Nothing open. Only upon the greatest, the most important provocation was it necessary to say anything open on Forsyte ’Change. This machine was too nicely adjusted; a hint, the merest trifling expression of regret or doubt, sufficed to set the family soul so sympathetic—vibrating. No one desired that harm should come of these vibrations—far from it; they were set in motion with the best intentions, with the feeling, that each member of the family had a stake in the family soul.
And much kindness lay at the bottom of the gossip; it would frequently result in visits of condolence being made, in accordance with the customs of Society, thereby conferring a real benefit upon the sufferers, and affording consolation to the sound, who felt pleasantly that someone at all events was suffering from that from which they themselves were not suffering. In fact, it was simply a desire to keep things well-aired, the desire which animates the Public Press, that brought James, for instance, into communication with Mrs. Septimus, Mrs. Septimus, with the little Nicholases, the little Nicholases with who-knows-whom, and so on. That great class to which they had risen, and now belonged, demanded a certain candour, a still more certain reticence. This combination guaranteed their membership.