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CHAPTER II

OLD JOLYON GOES TO THE OPERA


At five o'clock the following day old Jolyon sat alone, a cigar
between his lips, and on a table by his side a cup of tea. He
was tired, and before he had finished his cigar he fell asleep.
A fly settled on his hair, his breathing sounded heavy in the
drowsy silence, his upper lip under the white moustache puffed in
and out. From between the fingers of his veined and wrinkled
hand the 'cigar, dropping on the empty hearth, burned itself out.

The gloomy little, study, with windows of stained glass to
exclude the view, was full of dark green velvet and
heavily-carved mahogany--a suite of which old Jolyon was wont to
say: 'Shouldn't wonder if it made a big price some day!'

It was pleasant to think that in the after life he could get more
for things than he had given.

In the rich brown atmosphere peculiar to back rooms in the
mansion of a Forsyte, the Rembrandtesque effect of his great
head, with its white hair, against the cushion of his high-backed
seat, was spoiled by the moustache, which imparted a somewhat
military look to his face. An old clock that had been with him
since before his marriage forty years ago kept with its ticking a
jealous record of the seconds slipping away forever from its old
master.

He had never cared for this room, hardly going into it from one
year's end to another, except to take cigars from the Japanese
cabinet in the corner, and the room now had its revenge.

His temples, curving like thatches over the hollows beneath, his
cheek-bones and chin, all were sharpened in his sleep, and there
had come upon his face the confession that he was an old man.

He woke. June had gone! James had said he would be lonely.
James had always been a poor thing. He recollected with
satisfaction that he had bought that house over James's head.

Serve him right for sticking at the price; the only thing the
fellow thought of was money. Had he given too much, though? It
wanted a lot of doing to--He dared say he would want all his
money before he had done with this affair of June's. He ought
never to have allowed the engagement. She had met this Bosinney
At the house of Baynes, Baynes and Bildeboy, the architects. He
believed that Baynes, whom he knew--a bit of an old woman--was
the young man's uncle by marriage. After that she'd been always
running after him; and when she took a thing into her head there
was no stopping her. She was continually taking up with 'lame
ducks' of one sort or another. This fellow had no money, but she
must needs become engaged to him--a harumscarum, unpractical
chap, who would get himself into no end of difficulties.

She had come to him one day in her slap-dash way and told him;
and, as if it were any consolation, she had added:

"He's so splendid; he's often lived on cocoa for a week!"

"And he wants you to live on cocoa too?"

"Oh no; he is getting into the swim now."

Old Jolyon had taken his cigar from under his white moustaches,
stained by coffee at the edge, and looked at her, that little
slip of a thing who had got such a grip of his heart. He knew
more about 'swims' than his granddaughter. But she, having
clasped her hands on his knees, rubbed her chin against him,
making a sound like a purring cat. And, knocking the ash off his
cigar, he had exploded in nervous desperation:

"You're all alike: you won't be satisfied till you've got what
you want. If you must come to grief, you must; I wash my hands
of it."

So, he had washed his hands of it, making the condition that they
should not marry until Bosinney had at least four hundred a year.

"I shan't be able to give you very much," he had said, a formula
to which June was not unaccustomed." Perhaps this What's-his-
name will provide the cocoa."

He had hardly seen anything of her since it began. A bad
business! He had no notion of giving her a lot of money to
enable a fellow he knew nothing about to live on in idleness.
He had seen that sort of thing before; no good ever came of it.
Worst of all, he had no hope of shaking her resolution; she was
as obstinate as a mule, always had been from a child. He didn't
see where it was to end. They must cut their coat according to
their cloth. He would not give way till he saw young Bosinney

with an income of his own. That June would have trouble with the
fellow was as plain as a pikestaff; he had no more idea of money
than a cow. As to this rushing down to Wales to visit the young
man's aunts, he fully expected they were old cats.

And, motionless, old Jolyon stared at the wall; but for his open
eyes, he might have been asleep.... The idea of supposing that
young cub Soames could give him advice! He had always been a
cub, with his nose in the air! He would be setting up as a man
of property next, with a place in the country! A man of
property! H'mph! Like his father, he was always nosing out
bargains, a cold-blooded young beggar!

He rose, and, going to the cabinet, began methodically stocking
his, cigar-case from a bundle fresh in. They were not bad at the
price, but you couldn't get a good cigar, nowadays, nothing to
hold a candle to those old Superfinos of Hanson and Bridger's.
That was a cigar!

The thought, like some stealing perfume, carried him back to
those wonderful nights at Richmond when after dinner he sat
smoking on the terrace of the Crown and Sceptre with Nicholas
Treffry and Traquair and Jack Herring and Anthony Thornworthy.
How good his cigars were then! Poor old Nick!--dead, and Jack
Herringdead, and Traquair--dead of that wife of his, and
Thornworthy--awfully shaky (no wonder, with his appetite).

Of all the company of those days he himself alone seemed left,
except Swithin, of course, and he so outrageously big there was
no doing anything with him.

Difficult to believe it was so long ago; he felt young still! Of
all his thoughts, as he stood there counting his cigars, this was
the most poignant, the most bitter. With his white head and his
loneliness he had remained young and green at heart. And those
Sunday afternoons on Hampstead Heath, when young Jolyon and he
went for a stretch along the Spaniard's Road to Highgate, to
Child's Hill, and back over the Heath again to dine at Jack
Straw's Castle--how delicious his cigars were then! And such
weather! There was no weather now.

When June was a toddler of five, and every other Sunday he took
her to the Zoo, away from the society of those two good women,
her mother and her grandmother, and at the top of the bear den
baited his umbrella with buns for her favourite bears, how sweet
his cigars were then!

Cigars! He had not even succeeded in out-living his palate--the
famous palate that in the fifties men swore by, and speaking of
him, said: "Forsyte=s the best palate in London!" The palate that
in a sense had made his fortune--the fortune of the celebrated
tea men, Forsyte and Treffry, whose tea, like no other man's tea,
had a romantic aroma, the charm of a quite singular genuineness.
About the house of Forsyte and Treffry in the City had clung an
air of enterprise and mystery, of special dealings in special
ships, at special ports, with special Orientals.

He had worked at that business! Men did work in those days!
these young pups hardly knew the meaning of the word. He had
gone into every detail, known everything that went on, sometimes
sat up all night over it. And he had always chosen his agents
himself, prided himself on it. His eye for men, he used to say,
had been the secret of his success, and the exercise of this
masterful power of selection had been the only part of it all
that he had really liked. Not a career for a man of his ability.
Even now, when the business had been turned into a Limited
Liability Company, and was declining (he had got out of his
shares long ago), he felt a sharp chagrin in thinking of that
time. How much better he might have done! He would have
succeeded splendidly at the Bar! He had even thought of standing
for Parliament. How often had not Nicholas Treffry said to him:

"You could do anything, Jo, if you weren't so d-damned careful of
yourself!" Dear old Nick! Such a good fellow, but a racketty
chap! The notorious Treffry! He had never taken any care of
himself. So he was dead. Old Jolyon counted his cigars with a
steady hand, and it came into his mind to wonder if perhaps he
had been too careful of himself.

He put the cigar-case in the breast of his coat, buttoned it in,
and walked up the long flights to his bedroom, leaning on one
foot and the other, and helping himself by the bannister. The
house was too big. After June was married, if she ever did marry
this fellow, as he supposed she would, he would let it and go
into rooms. What was the use of keeping half a dozen servants
eating their heads off?

The butler came to the ring of his bell--a large man with a
beard, a soft tread, and a peculiar capacity for silence. Old
Jolyon told him to put his dress clothes out; he was going to
dine at the Club.

How long had the carriage been back from taking Miss June to the
station? Since two? Then let him come round at half-past six!

The Club which old Jolyon entered on the stroke of seven was one
of those political institutions of the upper middle class which
have seen better days. In spite of being talked about, perhaps
in consequence of being talked about, it betrayed a disappointing
vitality. People had grown tired of saying that the 'Disunion'
was on its last legs. Old Jolyon would say it, too, yet
disregarded the fact in a manner truly irritating to
well-constituted Clubmen.

"Why do you keep your name on?" Swithin often asked him with
profound vexation. "Why don't you join the 'Polyglot? You can't
get a wine like our Heidsieck under twenty shillin' a bottle
anywhere in London;" and, dropping his voice, he added: "There's
only five hundred dozen left. I drink it every night of my
life."

I'll think of it," old Jolyon would answer; but when he did think
of it there was always the question of fifty guineas entrance
fee, and it would take him four or five years to get in. He
continued to think of it.

He was too old to be a Liberal, had long ceased to believe in the
political doctrines of his Club, had even been known to allude to
them as 'wretched stuff,' and it afforded him pleasure to
continue a member in the teeth of principles so opposed to his
own. He had always had a contempt for the place, having joined
it many years ago when they refused to have him at the 'Hotch
Potch' owing to his being 'in trade.' As if he were not as good
as any of them! He naturally despised the Club that did take
him. The members were a poor lot, many of them in the City--
stockbrokers, solicitors, auctioneers--what not! Like most men
of strong character but not too much originality, old Jolyon set
small store by the class to which he belonged. Faithfully he
followed their customs, social and otherwise, and secretly he
thought them 'a common lot.'

Years and philosophy, of which he had his share, had dimmed the
recollection of his defeat at the 'Hotch Potch'; and now in his
thoughts it was enshrined as the Queen of Clubs. He would have
been a member all these years himself, but, owing to the slipshod
way his proposer, Jack Herring, had gone to work, they had not
known what they were doing in keeping him out. Why! they had
taken his son Jo at once, and he believed the boy was still a
member; he had received a letter dated from there eight years
ago.

He had not been near the 'Disunion' for months, and the house had
undergone the piebald decoration which people bestow on old
houses and old ships when anxious to sell them.

'Beastly colour, the smoking-room!' he thought. 'The dining-room
is good!'

Its gloomy chocolate, picked out with light green, took his
fancy.

He ordered dinner, and sat down in the very corner, at the very
table perhaps I (things did not progress much at the 'Disunion,'
a Club of almost Radical principles) at which he and young Jolyon
used to sit twenty-five years ago, when he was taking the latter
to Drury Lane, during his holidays.

The boy had--loved the theatre, and old Jolyon recalled how he
used to sit opposite, concealing his excitement under a careful
but transparent nonchalance.

He ordered himself, too, the very dinner the boy had always
chosen-soup, whitebait, cutlets, and a tart. Ah! if he were
only opposite now!

The two had not met for fourteen years. And not for the first
time during those fourteen years old Jolyon wondered whether he
had been a little to blame in the matter of his son. An
unfortunate love-affair with that precious flirt Danae Thorn-
worthy (now Danae Pellew), Anthony Thornworthy's daughter, had
thrown him on the rebound into the arms of June's mother. He
ought perhaps to have put a spoke in the wheel of their marriage;
they were too young; but after that experience of Jo's
susceptibility he had been only too anxious to see him married.
And in four years the crash had come! To have approved his son's
conduct in that crash was, of course, impossible; reason and
training--that combination of potent factors which stood for his
principles--told him of this impossibility, and his heart cried
out. The grim remorselessness of that business had no pity for
hearts. There was June, the atom with flaming hair, who had
climbed all over him, twined and twisted herself about him--about
his heart that was made to be the plaything and beloved resort of
tiny, helpless things. With characteristic insight he saw he
must part with one or with the other; no half-measures could
serve in such a situation. In that lay its tragedy. And the
tiny, helpless thing prevailed. He would not run with the hare
and hunt with the hounds, and so to his son he said good-bye.

That good-bye had lasted until now.

He had proposed to continue a reduced allowance to young Jolyon,
but this had been refused, and perhaps that refusal had hurt him
more than anything, for with it had gone the last outlet of his
penned-in affection; and there had come such tangible and solid
proof of rupture as only a transaction in property, a bestowal or
refusal of such, could supply.

His dinner tasted flat. His pint of champagne was dry and bitter
stuff, not like the Veuve Clicquots of old days.

Over his cup of coffee, he bethought him that he would go to the
opera. In the Times, therefore--he had a distrust of other
papers--he read the announcement for the evening. It was
'Fidelio."

Mercifully not one of those new-fangled German pantomimes by that
fellow Wagner.

Putting on his ancient opera hat, which, with its brim flattened
by use, and huge capacity, looked like an emblem of greater days,
and, pulling out an old pair of very thin lavender kid gloves
smelling strongly of Russia leather, from habitual proximity to
the cigar-case in the pocket of his overcoat, he stepped into a
hansom.

The cab rattled gaily along the streets, and old Jolyon was
struck by their unwonted animation.

'The hotels must be doing a tremendous business,' he thought. A
few years ago there had been none of these big hotels. He made
a satisfactory reflection on some property he had in the
neighbourhood. It must be going up in value by leaps and bounds!
What traffic!

But from that he began indulging in one of those strange
impersonal speculations, so uncharacteristic of a Forsyte,
wherein lay, in part, the secret of his supremacy amongst them.
What atoms men were, and what a lot of them! And what would
become of them all?

He stumbled as he got out of the cab, gave the man his exact
fare, walked up to the ticket office to take his stall, and stood
there with his purse in his hand--he always carried his money in
a purse, never having approved of that habit of carrying it
loosely in the pockets, as so many young men did nowadays. The
official leaned out, like an old dog from a kennel.

"Why," he said in a surprised voice, "it's Mr. Jolyon Forsyte!
So it is! Haven't seen you, sir, for years. Dear me! Times
aren't what they were. Why! you and your brother, and that
auctioneer--Mr. Traquair, and Mr. Nicholas Treffry--you used to
have six or seven stalls here regular every season. And how are
you, sir? We don't get younger!"

The colour in old Jolyon's eyes deepened; he paid his guinea.
They had not forgotten him. He marched in, to the sounds of the
overture, like an old war-horse to battle.

Folding his opera hat, he sat down, drew out his lavender gloves
in the old way, and took up his glasses for a long look round the
house. Dropping them at last on his folded hat, he fixed his
eyes on the curtain. More poignantly than ever he felt that it
was all over and done with him. Where were all the women, the
pretty women, the house used to be so full of? Where was that
old feeling in the heart as he waited for one of those great
singers.? Where that sensation of the intoxication of life and
of his own power to enjoy it all?

The greatest opera-goer of his day! There was no opera now!
That fellow Wagner had ruined everything; no melody left, nor any
voices to sing it. Ah! the wonderful singers! Gone! He sat
watching the old scenes acted, a numb feeling at his heart.

>From the curl of silver over his ear to the pose of his foot in
its elastic-sided patent boot, there was nothing clumsy or weak
about old Jolyon. He was as upright--very nearly--as in those
old times when he came every night; his sight was as good--almost
as good. But what a feeling of weariness and disillusion!

He had been in the habit all his life of enjoying things, even
imperfect things--and there had been many imperfect things--he
had enjoyed them all with moderation, so as to keep himself
young. But now he was deserted by his power of enjoyment, by his
philosophy) and left with this dreadful feeling that it was all
done with. Not even the Prisoners' Chorus, nor Florian's Song,
had the power to dispel the gloom of his loneliness.

If Jo, were only with him! The boy must be forty by now. He had
wasted fourteen years out of the life of his only son. And Jo
was no longer a social pariah. He was married. Old Jolyon had
been unable to refrain from marking his appreciation of the
action by enclosing his son a cheque for L500. The cheque had
been returned in a letter from the 'Hotch Potch,' couched in
these words.


'MY DEAREST FATHER,

'Your generous gift was welcome as a sign that you might think
worse of me. I return it, but should you think fit to invest it
for the benefit of the little chap (we call him Jolly), who bears
our Christian and, by courtesy, our surname, I shall be very
glad.

'I hope with all my heart that your health is as good as ever.

'Your loving son,

'Jo.'


The letter was like the boy. He had always been an amiable chap.
Old Jolyon had sent this reply:


'MY DEAR JO,

'The sum (L500) stands in my books for the benefit of your boy,
under the name of Jolyon Forsyte, and will be duly-credited with
interest at 5 per cent. I hope that you are doing well. My
health remains good at present.

'With love, I am,
'Your affectionate Father,

'JOLYON FORSYTE.'


And every, year on the 1st of January he had added a hundred and
the interest. The sum was mounting up--next New Year's Day it
would be fifteen hundred and odd pounds! And it is difficult to
say how much satisfaction he had got out of that yearly
transaction. But the correspondence had ended.

In spite of his love for his son, in spite of an instinct, partly
constitutional, partly the result, as in thousands of his class,
of the continual handling and watching of affairs, prompting him
to judge conduct by results rather than by principle, there was
at the bottom of his heart a sort of uneasiness. His son ought,
under the circumstances, to have gone to the dogs; that law was
laid down in all the novels, sermons, and plays he had ever read,
heard, or witnessed.

After receiving the cheque back there seemed to him to be
something wrong somewhere. Why had his son, not gone to--the
dogs? But, then, who could tell?

He had heard,. of course--in fact, he had made it his business
to find out--that Jo lived in St. John's Wood, that he had a
little house in Wistaria Avenue with a garden, and took his wife
about with, him into society--a queer sort of society, no doubt--
and that they had two children--the little chap they called Jolly
(considering the circumstances the name struck him as cynical,
and old Jolyon both feared and disliked cynicism), and a girl
called Holly, born since the marriage. Who could tell what his
son's circumstances really were? He had capitalized the income
he had inherited from his mother's father and joined Lloyd's as
an underwriter; he painted pictures, too--water-colours. Old
Jolyon knew this, for he had surreptitiously bought them from
time to time, after chancing to see his son's name signed at the
bottom of a representation of the river Thames in a dealer's
window. He thought them bad, and did not hang them because of
the signature; he kept them locked up in a drawer.

In the great opera-house a terrible yearning came on him to see
his son. He remembered the days when he had been wont to slide
him, in a brown holland suit, to and fro under the arch of his
legs; the times when he ran beside the boy's pony, teaching him
to ride; the day he first took him to school. He had been a
loving, lovable little chap! After he went to Eton he had
acquired, perhaps, a little too much of that desirable manner
which old Jolyon knew was only to be obtained at such places and
at great expense; but he had always been companionable. Always a
companion, even after Cambridge--a little far off, perhaps, owing
to the advantages he had received. Old Jolyon's feeling towards
our public schools and 'Varsities never wavered, and he retained
touchingly his attitude of admiration and mistrust towards a
system appropriate to the highest in the land, of which he had
not himself been privileged to partake.... Now that June had
gone and left, or as good as left him, it would have been a
comfort to see his son again. Guilty of this treason to his
family, his principles, his class, old Jolyon fixed his eyes on
the singer. A poor thing--a wretched poor thing! And the
Florian a perfect stick!

It was over. They were easily pleased nowadays!

In the crowded street he snapped up a cab under the very nose of
a stout and much younger gentleman, who had already assumed it to
be his own. His route lay through Pall Mall, and at the corner,
instead of going through the Green Park, the cabman turned to
drive up St. James's Street. Old Jolyon put his hand through
the trap (he could not bear being taken out of his way); in
turning, however, he found himself opposite the 'Hotch Potch, '
and the yearning that had been secretly with him the whole
evening prevailed. He called to the driver to stop. He would go
in and ask if Jo still belonged there.

He went in. The hall looked exactly as it did when he used to
dine there with Jack Herring, and they had the best cook in
London; and he looked round with the shrewd, straight glance that
had caused him all his life to be better served than most men.

"Mr. Jolyon Forsyte still a member here?"

"Yes, sir; in the Club now, sir. What name?"

Old Jolyon was taken aback.

"His father," he said.

And having spoken, he took his stand, back to the fireplace.

Young Jolyon, on the point of leaving the Club, had put on his
hat, and was in the act of crossing the hall, as the porter met
him. He was no longer young, with hair going grey, and face--a
narrower replica of his father's, with the same large drooping
moustache--decidedly worn. He turned pale. This meeting was
terrible after all those years, for nothing in the world was so
terrible as a scene. They met and crossed hands without a word.
Then, with a quaver in his voice, the father said:

"How are you, my boy?"

The son answered:

"How are you, Dad?"

Old Jolyon's hand trembled in its thin lavender glove.

If you're going my way," he said, "I can give you a lift."

And as though in the habit of taking each other home every night
they went out and stepped into the cab.

To old Jolyon it seemed that his son had grown. 'More of a man
altogether,' was his comment. Over the natural amiability of
that son's face had come a rather sardonic mask, as though he had
found in the circumstances of his life the necessity for armour.
The features were certainly those of a Forsyte, but the expression
was more the introspective look of a student or philosopher.
He had no doubt been obliged to look into himself a good deal in
the course of those fifteen years.

To young Jolyon the first sight of his father was undoubtedly a
shock--he looked so worn and old. But in the cab he seemed
hardly to have changed, still having the calm look so well
remembered, still being upright and, keen-eyed.

"You look well, Dad."

"Middling," old Jolyon answered.

He was the prey of an anxiety that he found he must put into
words. Having got his son back like this, he felt he must know
what was his financial position.

"Jo," he said, "I should like to hear what sort of water you're
in. I suppose you're in debt?"

He put it this way that his son might find it easier to confess.

Young Jolyon answered in his ironical voice:

"No! I'm not in debt!"

Old Jolyon saw that he was angry, and touched his hand. He had
run a risk. It was worth it, however, and Jo had never been
sulky with him. They drove on, without speaking again, to
Stanhope Gate. Old Jolyon invited him in, but young Jolyon shook
his head.

"June's not here," said his father hastily: "went of to-day on a
visit. I suppose you know that she's engaged to be married?"

"Already?" murmured young Jolyon'.

Old Jolyon stepped out, and, in paying the cab fare, for the
first time in his life gave the driver a sovereign in mistake for
a shilling.

Placing the coin in his mouth, the cabman whipped his horse
secretly on the underneath and hurried away.

Old Jolyon turned the key softly in the lock, pushed open the
door, and beckoned. His son saw him gravely hanging up his coat,
with an expression on his face like that of a boy who intends to
steal cherries.

The door of the dining-room was open, the gas turned low; a
spirit-urn hissed on a tea-tray, and close to it a cynical
looking cat had fallen asleep on the dining-table. Old Jolyon
'shoo'd' her off at once. The incident was a relief to his
feelings; he rattled his opera hat behind the animal.

"She's got fleas," he said, following her out of the room.
Through the door in the hall leading to the basement he called
"Hssst!" several times, as though assisting the cat's departure,
till by some strange coincidence the butler appeared below.

"You can go to bed, Parfitt," said old Jolyon. "I will lock up
and put out."

When he again entered the dining-room the cat unfortunately
preceded him, with her tail in the air, proclaiming that she had
seen through this manouevre for suppressing the butler from the
first....

A fatality had dogged old Jolyon's domestic stratagems all his
life.

Young Jolyon could not help smiling. He was very well versed in
irony, and everything that evening seemed to him ironical. The
episode of the cat; the announcement of his own daughter's
engagement. So he had no more part or parcel in her than he had
in the Puss! And the poetical justice of this appealed to him.

"What is June like now?" he asked.

"She's a little thing," returned old Jolyon; they say she's like
me, but that's their folly. She's more like your mother--the
same eyes and hair."

"Ah! and she is pretty?"

Old Jolyon was too much of a Forsyte to praise anything freely;
especially anything for which he had a genuine admiration.

"Not bad looking--a regular Forsyte chin. It'll be lonely here
when she's gone, Jo."

The look on his face again gave young Jolyon the shock he had
felt on first seeing his father.

"What will you do with yourself, Dad? I suppose she's wrapped up
in him?"

"Do with myself?" repeated old Jolyon with an angry break in his
voice. "It'll be miserable work living here alone. I don't know
how it's to end. I wish to goodness...." He checked himself, and
added: "The question is, what had I better do with this house?"

Young Jolyon looked round the room. It was peculiarly vast and
dreary, decorated with the enormous pictures of still life that
he remembered as a boy--sleeping dogs with their noses resting on
bunches of carrots, together with onions and grapes lying side by
side in mild surprise. The house was a white elephant, but he
could not conceive of his father living in a smaller place; and
all the more did it all seem ironical.

In his great chair with the book-rest sat old Jolyon, the
figurehead of his family and class and creed, with his white head
and dome-like forehead, the representative of moderation, and
order, and love of property. As lonely an old man as there was
in London.

There he sat in the gloomy comfort of the room, a puppet in the
power of great forces that cared nothing for family or class or
creed, but moved, machine-like, with dread processes to
inscrutable ends. This was how it struck young Jolyon, who had
the impersonal eye.

The poor old Dad! So this was the end, the purpose to which he
had lived with such magnificent moderation! To be lonely, and
grow older and older, yearning for a soul to speak to!

In his turn old Jolyon looked back at his son. He wanted to talk
about many things that he had been unable to talk about all these
years. It had been impossible to seriously confide in June his
conviction that property in the Soho quarter would go up in
value; his uneasiness about that tremendous silence of Pippin,
the superintendent of the New Colliery Company, of which he had
so long been chairman; his disgust at the steady fall in American
Golgothas, or even to discuss how, by some sort of settlement, he
could best avoid the payment of those death duties which would
follow his decease. Under the influence, however, of a cup of
tea, which he seemed to stir indefinitely, he began to speak at
last. A new vista of life was thus opened up, a promised land of
talk, where he could find a harbour against the waves of
anticipation and regret; where he could soothe his soul with the
opium of devising how to round off his property and make eternal
the only part of him that was to remain alive.

Young Jolyon was a good listener; it was his great quality. He
kept his eyes fixed on his father's face, putting a question now
and then.

The clock struck one before old Jolyon had finished, and at the
sound of its striking his principles came back. He took out his
watch with a look of surprise:

"I must go to bed, Jo," he said.

Young Jolyon rose and held out his hand to help his father up.
The old face looked worn and hollow again; the eyes were steadily
averted.

"Good-bye, my boy; take care of yourself."

A moment passed, and young Jolyon, turning on his, heel, marched
out at the door. He could hardly see; his smile quavered. Never
in all the fifteen years since he had first found out that life
was no simple business, had he found it so singularly
complicated.





Man of Property by John Galsworthy
Category:
English Novel

General Fiction
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