Two hours later by his watch, Thomas Gradman, stirring in his swivel chair, closed the last drawer of his bureau, and putting into his waistcoat pocket a bunch of keys so fat that they gave him a protuberance on the liver side, brushed his old top hat round with his sleeve, took his umbrella, and descended. Thick, short, and buttoned closely into his old frock coat, he walked toward Covent Garden market. He never missed that daily promenade to the Tube for Highgate, and seldom some critical transaction on the way in connection with vegetables and fruit. Generations might be born, and hats might change, wars be fought, and Forsytes fade away, but Thomas Gradman, faithful and grey, would take his daily walk and buy his daily vegetable. Times were not what they were, and his son had lost a leg, and they never gave him those nice little plaited baskets to carry the stuff in now, and these Tubes were convenient things—still he mustn’t complain; his health was good considering his time of life, and after fifty-four years in the Law he was getting a round eight hundred a year and a little worried of late, because it was mostly collector’s commission on the rents, and with all this conversion of Forsyte property going on, it looked like drying up, and the price of living still so high; but it was no good worrying—” The good God made us all”—as he was in the habit of saying; still, house property in London—he didn’t know what Mr. Roger or Mr. James would say if they could see it being sold like this—seemed to show a lack of faith; but Mr. Soames—he worried. Life and lives in being and twenty-one years after—beyond that you couldn’t go; still, he kept his health wonderfully—and Miss Fleur was a pretty little thing—she was; she’d marry; but lots of people had no children nowadays—he had had his first child at twenty-two; and Mr. Jolyon, married while he was at Cambridge, had his child the same year—gracious Peter! That was back in ’69, a long time before old Mr. Jolyon—fine judge of property—had taken his Will away from Mr. James—dear, yes! Those were the days when they were buyin’ property right and left, and none of this khaki and fallin’ over one another to get out of things; and cucumbers at twopence; and a melon—the old melons, that made your mouth water! Fifty years since he went into Mr. James’ office, and Mr. James had said to him: “Now, Gradman, you’re only a shaver—you pay attention, and you’ll make your five hundred a year before you’ve done.” And he had, and feared God, and served the Forsytes, and kept a vegetable diet at night. And, buying a copy of John Bull—not that he approved of it, an extravagant affair—he entered the Tube elevator with his mere brown-paper parcel, and was borne down into the bowels of the earth.
SOAMES’ PRIVATE LIFE
On his way to Green Street it occurred to Soames that he ought to go into Dumetrius’ in Suffolk Street about the possibility of the Bolderby Old Crome. Almost worth while to have fought the war to have the Bolderby Old Crome, as it were, in flux! Old Bolderby had died, his son and grandson had been killed—a cousin was coming into the estate, who meant to sell it, some said because of the condition of England, others said because he had asthma.