Mrs. Small, Aunt Hester, and their cat were left once more alone, the sound of a door closing in the distance announced the approach of Timothy.
That evening, when Aunt Hester had just got off to sleep in the back bedroom that used to be Aunt Juley’s before Aunt Juley took Aunt Ann’s, her door was opened, and Mrs. Small, in a pink night-cap, a candle in her hand, entered: “Hester!” she said. “Hester!”
Aunt Hester faintly rustled the sheet.
“Hester,” repeated Aunt Juley, to make quite sure that she had awakened her, “I am quite troubled about poor dear Jolyon. What,” Aunt Juley dwelt on the word, “do you think ought to be done?”
Aunt Hester again rustled the sheet, her voice was heard faintly pleading: “Done? How should I know?”
Aunt Juley turned away satisfied, and closing the door with extra gentleness so as not to disturb dear Hester, let it slip through her fingers and fall to with a ‘crack.’
Back in her own room, she stood at the window gazing at the moon over the trees in the Park, through a chink in the muslin curtains, close drawn lest anyone should see. And there, with her face all round and pouting in its pink cap, and her eyes wet, she thought of ‘dear Jolyon,’ so old and so lonely, and how she could be of some use to him; and how he would come to love her, as she had never been loved since—since poor Septimus went away.
DANCE AT ROGER’S
Roger’s house in Prince’s Gardens was brilliantly alight. Large numbers of wax candles had been collected and placed in cut-glass chandeliers, and the parquet floor of the long, double drawing-room reflected these constellations. An appearance of real spaciousness had been secured by moving out all the furniture on to the upper landings, and enclosing the room with those strange appendages of civilization known as ‘rout’ seats. In a remote corner, embowered in palms, was a cottage piano, with a copy of the ‘Kensington Coil’ open on the music-stand.
Roger had objected to a band. He didn’t see in the least what they wanted with a band; he wouldn’t go to the expense, and there was an end of it. Francie (her mother, whom Roger had long since reduced to chronic dyspepsia, went to bed on such occasions), had been obliged to content herself with supplementing the piano by a young man who played the cornet, and she so arranged with palms that anyone who did not look into the heart of things might imagine there were several musicians secreted there. She made up her mind to tell them to play loud—there was a lot of music in a cornet, if the man would only put his soul into it.
In the more cultivated American tongue, she was ‘through’ at last—through that tortuous labyrinth of make-shifts, which must be traversed before fashionable display can be combined with the sound economy of a Forsyte. Thin but brilliant, in her maize-coloured frock with much tulle about the shoulders, she went from place to place, fitting on her gloves, and casting her eye over it all.