Winifred Dartie coughed, and no one said a word. It was the piece of evidence they had all unconsciously been waiting for.
To do Mrs. MacAnder justice, she had been to Switzerland and the Italian lakes with a party of three, and had not heard of Soames’ rupture with his architect. She could not tell, therefore, the profound impression her words would make.
Upright and a little flushed, she moved her small, shrewd eyes from face to face, trying to gauge the effect of her words. On either side of her a Hayman boy, his lean, taciturn, hungry face turned towards his plate, ate his mutton steadily.
These two, Giles and Jesse, were so alike and so inseparable that they were known as the Dromios. They never talked, and seemed always completely occupied in doing nothing. It was popularly supposed that they were cramming for an important examination. They walked without hats for long hours in the Gardens attached to their house, books in their hands, a fox-terrier at their heels, never saying a word, and smoking all the time. Every morning, about fifty yards apart, they trotted down Campden Hill on two lean hacks, with legs as long as their own, and every morning about an hour later, still fifty yards apart, they cantered up again. Every evening, wherever they had dined, they might be observed about half-past ten, leaning over the balustrade of the Alhambra promenade.
They were never seen otherwise than together; in this way passing their lives, apparently perfectly content.
Inspired by some dumb stirring within them of the feelings of gentlemen, they turned at this painful moment to Mrs. MacAnder, and said in precisely the same voice: “Have you seen the...?”
Such was her surprise at being thus addressed that she put down her fork; and Smither, who was passing, promptly removed her plate. Mrs. MacAnder, however, with presence of mind, said instantly: “I must have a little more of that nice mutton.”
But afterwards in the drawing—room she sat down by Mrs. Small, determined to get to the bottom of the matter. And she began:
“What a charming woman, Mrs. Soames; such a sympathetic temperament! Soames is a really lucky man!”
Her anxiety for information had not made sufficient allowance for that inner Forsyte skin which refuses to share its troubles with outsiders.
Mrs. Septimus Small, drawing herself up with a creak and rustle of her whole person, said, shivering in her dignity:
“My dear, it is a subject we do not talk about!”
NIGHT IN THE PARK
Although with her infallible instinct Mrs. Small had said the very thing to make her guest ‘more intriguee than ever,’ it is difficult to see how else she could truthfully have spoken.
It was not a subject which the Forsytes could talk about even among themselves—to use the word Soames had invented to characterize to himself the situation, it was ‘subterranean.’