deep into his overcoat pockets. Damn Crum!
He conceived the wild idea of running back and fending
his father, taking him by the arm and walking about
with him in front of Crum; but gave it up at once and
pursued his way down Piccadilly. A young woman
planted herself before him. “Not so angry,
darling!” He shied, dodged her, and suddenly
became quite cool. If Crum ever said a word,
he would jolly well punch his head, and there would
be an end of it. He walked a hundred yards or
more, contented with that thought, then lost its comfort
utterly. It wasn’t simple like that!
He remembered how, at school, when some parent came
down who did not pass the standard, it just clung to
the fellow afterwards. It was one of those things
nothing could remove. Why had his mother married
his father, if he was a ‘bounder’?
It was bitterly unfair—jolly low-down
on a fellow to give him a ‘bounder’ for
father. The worst of it was that now Crum had
spoken the word, he realised that he had long known
subconsciously that his father was not ’the clean
potato.’ It was the beastliest thing that
had ever happened to him—beastliest thing
that had ever happened to any fellow! And, down-hearted
as he had never yet been, he came to Green Street,
and let himself in with a smuggled latch-key.
In the dining-room his plover’s eggs were set
invitingly, with some cut bread and butter, and a little
whisky at the bottom of a decanter—just
enough, as Winifred had thought, for him to feel himself
a man. It made him sick to look at them, and
he went upstairs.
Winifred heard him pass, and thought: ’The
dear boy’s in. Thank goodness! If
he takes after his father I don’t know what I
shall do! But he won’t he’s like
me. Dear Val!’
SOAMES PREPARES TO TAKE STEPS
When Soames entered his sister’s little Louis
Quinze drawing-room, with its small balcony, always
flowered with hanging geraniums in the summer, and
now with pots of Lilium Auratum, he was struck by the
immutability of human affairs. It looked just
the same as on his first visit to the newly married
Darties twenty-one years ago. He had chosen the
furniture himself, and so completely that no subsequent
purchase had ever been able to change the room’s
atmosphere. Yes, he had founded his sister well,
and she had wanted it. Indeed, it said a great
deal for Winifred that after all this time with Dartie
she remained well-founded. From the first Soames
had nosed out Dartie’s nature from underneath
the plausibility, savoir faire, and good looks which
had dazzled Winifred, her mother, and even James,
to the extent of permitting the fellow to marry his
daughter without bringing anything but shares of no
value into settlement.
Winifred, whom he noticed next to the furniture, was
sitting at her Buhl bureau with a letter in her hand.
She rose and came towards him. Tall as himself,
strong in the cheekbones, well tailored, something
in her face disturbed Soames. She crumpled the
letter in her hand, but seemed to change her mind
and held it out to him. He was her lawyer as
well as her brother.