Jon’s face softened; then again became tense. Everybody—everybody was against him and Fleur! It all strengthened the appeal of her words: “Make sure of me—marry me, Jon!”
Here, where he had passed that wonderful week with her—the tug of her enchantment, the ache in his heart increased with every minute that she was not there to make the room, the garden, the very air magical. Would he ever be able to live down here, not seeing her? And he closed up utterly, going early to bed. It would not make him healthy, wealthy, and wise, but it closeted him with memory of Fleur in her fancy frock. He heard Val’s arrival—the Ford discharging cargo, then the stillness of the summer night stole back—with only the bleating of very distant sheep, and a night-Jar’s harsh purring. He leaned far out. Cold moon—warm air—the Downs like silver! Small wings, a stream bubbling, the rambler roses! God—how empty all of it without her! In the Bible it was written: Thou shalt leave father and mother and cleave to—Fleur!
Let him have pluck, and go and tell them! They couldn’t stop him marrying her—they wouldn’t want to stop him when they knew how he felt. Yes! He would go! Bold and open—Fleur was wrong!
The night-jar ceased, the sheep were silent; the only sound in the darkness was the bubbling of the stream. And Jon in his bed slept, freed from the worst of life’s evils—indecision.
On the day of the cancelled meeting at the National Gallery began the second anniversary of the resurrection of England’s pride and glory—or, more shortly, the top hat. “Lord’s”—that festival which the War had driven from the field—raised its light and dark blue flags for the second time, displaying almost every feature of a glorious past. Here, in the luncheon interval, were all species of female and one species of male hat, protecting the multiple types of face associated with “the classes.” The observing Forsyte might discern in the free or unconsidered seats a certain number of the squash-hatted, but they hardly ventured on the grass; the old school—or schools—could still rejoice that the proletariat was not yet paying the necessary half-crown. Here was still a close borough, the only one left on a large scale—for the papers were about to estimate the attendance at ten thousand. And the ten thousand, all animated by one hope, were asking each other one question: “Where are you lunching?” Something wonderfully uplifting and reassuring in that query and the sight of so many people like themselves voicing it! What reserve power in the British realm—enough pigeons, lobsters, lamb, salmon mayonnaise, strawberries, and bottles of champagne to feed the lot! No miracle in prospect—no case of seven loaves and a few fishes—faith rested on surer foundations. Six thousand top hats, four thousand