THE THIRD GENERATION
Jolly Forsyte was strolling down High Street, Oxford, on a November afternoon; Val Dartie was strolling up. Jolly had just changed out of boating flannels and was on his way to the ‘Frying-pan,’ to which he had recently been elected. Val had just changed out of riding clothes and was on his way to the fire—a bookmaker’s in Cornmarket.
“Hallo!” said Jolly.
“Hallo!” replied Val.
The cousins had met but twice, Jolly, the second-year man, having invited the freshman to breakfast; and last evening they had seen each other again under somewhat exotic circumstances.
Over a tailor’s in the Cornmarket resided one of those privileged young beings called minors, whose inheritances are large, whose parents are dead, whose guardians are remote, and whose instincts are vicious. At nineteen he had commenced one of those careers attractive and inexplicable to ordinary mortals for whom a single bankruptcy is good as a feast. Already famous for having the only roulette table then to be found in Oxford, he was anticipating his expectations at a dazzling rate. He out-crummed Crum, though of a sanguine and rather beefy type which lacked the latter’s fascinating languor. For Val it had been in the nature of baptism to be taken there to play roulette; in the nature of confirmation to get back into college, after hours, through a window whose bars were deceptive. Once, during that evening of delight, glancing up from the seductive green before him, he had caught sight, through a cloud of smoke, of his cousin standing opposite. ’Rouge gagne, impair, et manque!’ He had not seen him again.
“Come in to the Frying-pan and have tea,” said Jolly, and they went in.
A stranger, seeing them together, would have noticed an unseizable resemblance between these second cousins of the third generations of Forsytes; the same bone formation in face, though Jolly’s eyes were darker grey, his hair lighter and more wavy.
“Tea and buttered buns, waiter, please,” said Jolly.
“Have one of my cigarettes?” said Val. “I saw you last night. How did you do?”
“I didn’t play.”