At that deadly turning of the meaning of his speech by the son of him who had nicknamed him ‘the man of property,’ Soames stood glaring. It was ridiculous!
There they were, kept from violence by some secret force. No blow possible, no words to meet the case. But he could not, did not know how to turn and go away. His eyes fastened on Irene’s face—the last time he would ever see that fatal face—the last time, no doubt!
“You,” he said suddenly, “I hope you’ll treat him as you treated me—that’s all.”
He saw her wince, and with a sensation not quite triumph, not quite relief, he wrenched open the door, passed out through the hall, and got into his cab. He lolled against the cushion with his eyes shut. Never in his life had he been so near to murderous violence, never so thrown away the restraint which was his second nature. He had a stripped and naked feeling, as if all virtue had gone out of him—life meaningless, mind-striking work. Sunlight streamed in on him, but he felt cold. The scene he had passed through had gone from him already, what was before him would not materialise, he could catch on to nothing; and he felt frightened, as if he had been hanging over the edge of a precipice, as if with another turn of the screw sanity would have failed him. ’I’m not fit for it,’ he thought; ‘I mustn’t—I’m not fit for it.’ The cab sped on, and in mechanical procession trees, houses, people passed, but had no significance. ‘I feel very queer,’ he thought; ’I’ll take a Turkish bath.—I’ve been very near to something. It won’t do.’ The cab whirred its way back over the bridge, up the Fulham Road, along the Park.
“To the Hammam,” said Soames.
Curious that on so warm a summer day, heat should be so comforting! Crossing into the hot room he met George Forsyte coming out, red and glistening.
“Hallo!” said George; “what are you training for? You’ve not got much superfluous.”
Buffoon! Soames passed him with his sideway smile. Lying back, rubbing his skin uneasily for the first signs of perspiration, he thought: ’Let them laugh! I won’t feel anything! I can’t stand violence! It’s not good for me!’
A SUMMER NIGHT
Soames left dead silence in the little study. “Thank you for that good lie,” said Jolyon suddenly. “Come out—the air in here is not what it was!”
In front of a long high southerly wall on which were trained peach-trees the two walked up and down in silence. Old Jolyon had planted some cupressus-trees, at intervals, between this grassy terrace and the dipping meadow full of buttercups and ox-eyed daisies; for twelve years they had flourished, till their dark spiral shapes had quite a look of Italy. Birds fluttered softly in the wet shrubbery; the swallows swooped past, with a steel-blue sheen on their swift