She could sleep, but he must lie awake. And, lying awake, he hardened himself to play the part of the serene and trusting husband.
In the small hours he slipped out of bed, and passing into his dressing-room, leaned by the open window.
He could hardly breathe.
A night four years ago came back to him—the night but one before his marriage; as hot and stifling as this.
He remembered how he had lain in a long cane chair in the window of his sitting-room off Victoria Street. Down below in a side street a man had banged at a door, a woman had cried out; he remembered, as though it were now, the sound of the scuffle, the slam of the door, the dead silence that followed. And then the early water-cart, cleansing the reek of the streets, had approached through the strange-seeming, useless lamp-light; he seemed to hear again its rumble, nearer and nearer, till it passed and slowly died away.
He leaned far out of the dressing-room window over the little court below, and saw the first light spread. The outlines of dark walls and roofs were blurred for a moment, then came out sharper than before.
He remembered how that other night he had watched the lamps paling all the length of Victoria Street; how he had hurried on his clothes and gone down into the street, down past houses and squares, to the street where she was staying, and there had stood and looked at the front of the little house, as still and grey as the face of a dead man.
And suddenly it shot through his mind; like a sick man’s fancy: What’s he doing?—that fellow who haunts me, who was here this evening, who’s in love with my wife—prowling out there, perhaps, looking for her as I know he was looking for her this afternoon; watching my house now, for all I can tell!
He stole across the landing to the front of the house, stealthily drew aside a blind, and raised a window.
The grey light clung about the trees of the square, as though Night, like a great downy moth, had brushed them with her wings. The lamps were still alight, all pale, but not a soul stirred—no living thing in sight.
Yet suddenly, very faint, far off in the deathly stillness, he heard a cry writhing, like the voice of some wandering soul barred out of heaven, and crying for its happiness. There it was again—again! Soames shut the window, shuddering.
Then he thought: ‘Ah! it’s only the peacocks, across the water.’
JUNE PAYS SOME CALLS
Jolyon stood in the narrow hall at Broadstairs, inhaling that odour of oilcloth and herrings which permeates all respectable seaside lodging-houses. On a chair—a shiny leather chair, displaying its horsehair through a hole in the top left-hand corner—stood a black despatch case. This he was filling with papers, with the Times, and a bottle of Eau-de Cologne. He had meetings that day of the ’Globular Gold Concessions’ and the ‘New Colliery Company, Limited,’ to which he was going up, for he never missed a Board; to ‘miss a Board’ would be one more piece of evidence that he was growing old, and this his jealous Forsyte spirit could not bear.