MY BROTHER HUBERT GALSWORTHY
Salvation of A Forsyte by John Galsworthy
Swithin Forsyte lay in bed. The corners of his mouth under his white
moustache drooped towards his double chin. He panted:
"My doctor says I'm in a bad way, James."
His twin-brother placed his hand behind his ear. "I can't hear you. They
tell me I ought to take a cure. There's always a cure wanted for
something. Emily had a cure."
Swithin replied: "You mumble so. I hear my man, Adolph. I trained him....
You ought to have an ear-trumpet. You're getting very shaky, James."
There was silence; then James Forsyte, as if galvanised, remarked: "I
s'pose you've made your will. I s'pose you've left your money to the
family; you've nobody else to leave it to. There was Danson died the other
day, and left his money to a hospital."
The hairs of Swithin's white moustache bristled. "My fool of a doctor told
me to make my will," he said, "I hate a fellow who tells you to make your
will. My appetite's good; I ate a partridge last night. I'm all the better
for eating. He told me to leave off champagne! I eat a good breakfast. I'm
not eighty. You're the same age, James. You look very shaky."
James Forsyte said: "You ought to have another opinion. Have Blank; he's
the first man now. I had him for Emily; cost me two hundred guineas. He
sent her to Homburg; that's the first place now. The Prince was there—everybody
Swithin Forsyte answered: "I don't get any sleep at night, now I can't get
out; and I've bought a new carriage—gave a pot of money for it. D'
you ever have bronchitis? They tell me champagne's dangerous; it's my
belief I couldn't take a better thing."
James Forsyte rose.
"You ought to have another opinion. Emily sent her love; she would have
come in, but she had to go to Niagara. Everybody goes there; it's the
place now. Rachel goes every morning: she overdoes it—she'll be laid
up one of these days. There's a fancy ball there to-night; the Duke gives
Swithin Forsyte said angrily: "I can't get things properly cooked here; at
the club I get spinach decently done." The bed-clothes jerked at the
tremor of his legs.
James Forsyte replied: "You must have done well with Tintos; you must have
made a lot of money by them. Your ground-rents must be falling in, too.
You must have any amount you don't know what to do with." He mouthed the
words, as if his lips were watering.
Swithin Forsyte glared. "Money!" he said; "my doctor's bill's enormous."
James Forsyte stretched out a cold, damp hand "Goodbye! You ought to have
another opinion. I can't keep the horses waiting: they're a new pair—stood
me in three hundred. You ought to take care of yourself. I shall speak to
Blank about you. You ought to have him—everybody says he's the first
Swithin Forsyte continued to stare at the ceiling. He thought: 'A poor
thing, James! a selfish beggar! Must be worth a couple of hundred
thousand!' He wheezed, meditating on life....
He was ill and lonely. For many years he had been lonely, and for two
years ill; but as he had smoked his first cigar, so he would live his
life-stoutly, to its predestined end. Every day he was driven to the club;
sitting forward on the spring cushions of a single brougham, his hands on
his knees, swaying a little, strangely solemn. He ascended the steps into
that marble hall—the folds of his chin wedged into the aperture of
his collar—walking squarely with a stick. Later he would dine,
eating majestically, and savouring his food, behind a bottle of champagne
set in an ice-pail—his waistcoat defended by a napkin, his eyes
rolling a little or glued in a stare on the waiter. Never did he suffer
his head or back to droop, for it was not distinguished so to do.
Because he was old and deaf, he spoke to no one; and no one spoke to him.
The club gossip, an Irishman, said to each newcomer: "Old Forsyte! Look at
'um! Must ha' had something in his life to sour 'um!" But Swithin had had
nothing in his life to sour him.
For many days now he had lain in bed in a room exuding silver, crimson,
and electric light, smelling of opopanax and of cigars. The curtains were
drawn, the firelight gleamed; on a table by his bed were a jug of
barley-water and the Times. He made an attempt to read, failed, and fell
again to thinking. His face with its square chin, looked like a block of
pale leather bedded in the pillow. It was lonely! A woman in the room
would have made all the difference! Why had he never married? He breathed
hard, staring froglike at the ceiling; a memory had come into his mind. It
was a long time ago—forty odd years—but it seemed like
It happened when he was thirty-eight, for the first and only time in his
life travelling on the Continent, with his twin-brother James and a man
named Traquair. On the way from Germany to Venice, he had found himself at
the Hotel Goldene Alp at Salzburg. It was late August, and weather for the
gods: sunshine on the walls and the shadows of the vine-leaves, and at
night, the moonlight, and again on the walls the shadows of the
vine-leaves. Averse to the suggestions of other people, Swithin had
refused to visit the Citadel; he had spent the day alone in the window of
his bedroom, smoking a succession of cigars, and disparaging the
appearance of the passers-by. After dinner he was driven by boredom into
the streets. His chest puffed out like a pigeon's, and with something of a
pigeon's cold and inquiring eye, he strutted, annoyed at the frequency of
uniforms, which seemed to him both needless and offensive. His spleen rose
at this crowd of foreigners, who spoke an unintelligible language, wore
hair on their faces, and smoked bad tobacco. 'A queer lot!' he thought.
The sound of music from a cafe attracted him; he walked in, vaguely moved
by a wish for the distinction of adventure, without the trouble which
adventure usually brought with it; spurred too, perhaps, by an
after-dinner demon. The cafe was the bier-halle of the 'Fifties, with a
door at either end, and lighted by a large wooden lantern. On a small dais
three musicians were fiddling. Solitary men, or groups, sat at some dozen
tables, and the waiters hurried about replenishing glasses; the air was
thick with smoke. Swithin sat down. "Wine!" he said sternly. The
astonished waiter brought him wine. Swithin pointed to a beer glass on the
table. "Here!" he said, with the same ferocity. The waiter poured out the
wine. 'Ah!' thought Swithin, 'they can understand if they like.' A group
of officers close by were laughing; Swithin stared at them uneasily. A
hollow cough sounded almost in his ear. To his left a man sat reading,
with his elbows on the corners of a journal, and his gaunt shoulders
raised almost to his eyes. He had a thin, long nose, broadening suddenly
at the nostrils; a black-brown beard, spread in a savage fan over his
chest; what was visible of the face was the colour of old parchment. A
strange, wild, haughty-looking creature! Swithin observed his clothes with
some displeasure—they were the clothes of a journalist or strolling
actor. And yet he was impressed. This was singular. How could he be
impressed by a fellow in such clothes! The man reached out a hand, covered
with black hairs, and took up a tumbler that contained a dark-coloured
fluid. 'Brandy!' thought Swithin. The crash of a falling chair startled
him—his neighbour had risen. He was of immense height, and very
thin; his great beard seemed to splash away from his mouth; he was glaring
at the group of officers, and speaking. Swithin made out two words:
"Hunde! Deutsche Hunde!" 'Hounds! Dutch hounds!' he thought: 'Rather
strong!' One of the officers had jumped up, and now drew his sword. The
tall man swung his chair up, and brought it down with a thud. Everybody
round started up and closed on him. The tall man cried out, "To me,
Swithin grinned. The tall man fighting such odds excited his unwilling
admiration; he had a momentary impulse to go to his assistance. 'Only get
a broken nose!' he thought, and looked for a safe corner. But at that
moment a thrown lemon struck him on the jaw. He jumped out of his chair
and rushed at the officers. The Hungarian, swinging his chair, threw him a
look of gratitude—Swithin glowed with momentary admiration of
himself. A sword blade grazed his—arm; he felt a sudden dislike of
the Hungarian. 'This is too much,' he thought, and, catching up a chair,
flung it at the wooden lantern. There was a crash—faces and swords
vanished. He struck a match, and by the light of it bolted for the door. A
second later he was in the street.
A voice said in English, "God bless you, brother!"
Swithin looked round, and saw the tall Hungarian holding out his hand. He
took it, thinking, 'What a fool I've been!' There was something in the
Hungarian's gesture which said, "You are worthy of me!"
It was annoying, but rather impressive. The man seemed even taller than
before; there was a cut on his cheek, the blood from which was trickling
down his beard. "You English!" he said. "I saw you stone Haynau—I
saw you cheer Kossuth. The free blood of your people cries out to us." He
looked at Swithin. "You are a big man, you have a big soul—and
strong, how you flung them down! Ha!" Swithin had an impulse to take to
his heels. "My name," said the Hungarian, "is Boleskey. You are my
friend." His English was good.
'Bulsh-kai-ee, Burlsh-kai-ee,' thought Swithin; 'what a devil of a name!'
"Mine," he said sulkily, "is Forsyte."
The Hungarian repeated it.
"You've had a nasty jab on the cheek," said Swithin; the sight of the
matted beard was making him feel sick. The Hungarian put his fingers to
his cheek, brought them away wet, stared at them, then with an indifferent
air gathered a wisp of his beard and crammed it against the cut.
"Ugh!" said Swithin. "Here! Take my handkerchief!"
The Hungarian bowed. "Thank you!" he said; "I couldn't think of it! Thank
you a thousand times!"
"Take it!" growled Swithin; it seemed to him suddenly of the first
importance. He thrust the handkerchief into the Hungarian's hand, and felt
a pain in his arm. 'There!' he thought, 'I've strained a muscle.'
The Hungarian kept muttering, regardless of passers-by, "Swine! How you
threw them over! Two or three cracked heads, anyway—the cowardly
"Look here!" said Swithin suddenly; "which is my way to the Goldene Alp?"
The Hungarian replied, "But you are coming with me, for a glass of wine?"
Swithin looked at the ground. 'Not if I know it!' he thought.
"Ah!" said the Hungarian with dignity, "you do not wish for my
'Touchy beggar!' thought Swithin. "Of course," he stammered, "if you put
it in that way—"
The Hungarian bowed, murmuring, "Forgive me!"
They had not gone a dozen steps before a youth, with a beardless face and
hollow cheeks, accosted them. "For the love of Christ, gentlemen," he
said, "help me!"
"Are you a German?" asked Boleskey.
"Yes," said the youth.
"Then you may rot!"
"Master, look here!" Tearing open his coat, the youth displayed his skin,
and a leather belt drawn tight round it. Again Swithin felt that desire to
take to his heels. He was filled with horrid forebodings—a sense of
perpending intimacy with things such as no gentleman had dealings with.
The Hungarian crossed himself. "Brother," he said to the youth, "come you
Swithin looked at them askance, and followed. By a dim light they groped
their way up some stairs into a large room, into which the moon was
shining through a window bulging over the street. A lamp burned low; there
was a smell of spirits and tobacco, with a faint, peculiar scent, as of
rose leaves. In one corner stood a czymbal, in another a great pile of
newspapers. On the wall hung some old-fashioned pistols, and a rosary of
yellow beads. Everything was tidily arranged, but dusty. Near an open
fireplace was a table with the remains of a meal. The ceiling, floor, and
walls were all of dark wood. In spite of the strange disharmony, the room
had a sort of refinement. The Hungarian took a bottle out of a cupboard
and, filling some glasses, handed one to Swithin. Swithin put it gingerly
to his nose. 'You never know your luck! Come!' he thought, tilting it
slowly into his mouth. It was thick, too sweet, but of a fine flavour.
"Brothers!" said the Hungarian, refilling, "your healths!"
The youth tossed off his wine. And Swithin this time did the same; he
pitied this poor devil of a youth now. "Come round to-morrow!" he said,
"I'll give you a shirt or two." When the youth was gone, however, he
remembered with relief that he had not given his address.
'Better so,' he reflected. 'A humbug, no doubt.'
"What was that you said to him?" he asked of the Hungarian.
"I said," answered Boleskey, "'You have eaten and drunk; and now you are
"Quite right!" said Swithin, "quite right! A beggar is every man's enemy."
"You do not understand," the Hungarian replied politely. "While he was a
beggar—I, too, have had to beg" (Swithin thought, 'Good God! this is
awful!'), "but now that he is no longer hungry, what is he but a German?
No Austrian dog soils my floors!"
His nostrils, as it seemed to Swithin, had distended in an unpleasant
fashion; and a wholly unnecessary raucousness invaded his voice. "I am an
exile—all of my blood are exiles. Those Godless dogs!" Swithin
As he spoke, a face peeped in at the door.
"Rozsi!" said the Hungarian. A young girl came in. She was rather short,
with a deliciously round figure and a thick plait of hair. She smiled, and
showed her even teeth; her little, bright, wide-set grey eyes glanced from
one man to the other. Her face was round, too, high in the cheekbones, the
colour of wild roses, with brows that had a twist-up at the corners. With
a gesture of alarm, she put her hand to her cheek, and called, "Margit!"
An older girl appeared, taller, with fine shoulders, large eyes, a pretty
mouth, and what Swithin described to himself afterwards as a "pudding"
nose. Both girls, with little cooing sounds, began attending to their
Swithin turned his back to them. His arm pained him.
'This is what comes of interfering,' he thought sulkily; 'I might have had
my neck broken!' Suddenly a soft palm was placed in his, two eyes,
half-fascinated, half-shy, looked at him; then a voice called, "Rozsi!"
the door was slammed, he was alone again with the Hungarian, harassed by a
sense of soft disturbance.
"Your daughter's name is Rosy?" he said; "we have it in England—from
rose, a flower."
"Rozsi (Rozgi)," the Hungarian replied; "your English is a hard tongue,
harder than French, German, or Czechish, harder than Russian, or Roumanian—I
know no more."
"What?" said Swithin, "six languages?" Privately he thought, 'He knows how
to lie, anyway.'
"If you lived in a country like mine," muttered the Hungarian, "with all
men's hands against you! A free people—dying—but not dead!"
Swithin could not imagine what he was talking of. This man's face, with
its linen bandage, gloomy eyes, and great black wisps of beard, his fierce
mutterings, and hollow cough, were all most unpleasant. He seemed to be
suffering from some kind of mental dog-bite. His emotion indeed appeared
so indecent, so uncontrolled and open, that its obvious sincerity produced
a sort of awe in Swithin. It was like being forced to look into a furnace.
Boleskey stopped roaming up and down. "You think it's over?" he said; "I
tell you, in the breast of each one of us Magyars there is a hell. What is
sweeter than life? What is more sacred than each breath we draw? Ah! my
country!" These words were uttered so slowly, with such intense
mournfulness, that Swithin's jaw relaxed; he converted the movement to a
"Tell me," said Boleskey, "what would you do if the French conquered you?"
Swithin smiled. Then suddenly, as though something had hurt him, he
grunted, "The 'Froggies'? Let 'em try!"
"Drink!" said Boleskey—"there is nothing like it"; he filled
Swithin's glass. "I will tell you my story."
Swithin rose hurriedly. "It's late," he said. "This is good stuff, though;
have you much of it?"
"It is the last bottle."
"What?" said Swithin; "and you gave it to a beggar?"
"My name is Boleskey—Stefan," the Hungarian said, raising his head;
"of the Komorn Boleskeys." The simplicity of this phrase—as who
shall say: What need of further description?—made an impression on
Swithin; he stopped to listen. Boleskey's story went on and on. "There
were many abuses," boomed his deep voice, "much wrong done—much
cowardice. I could see clouds gathering—rolling over our plains. The
Austrian wished to strangle the breath of our mouths—to take from us
the shadow of our liberty—the shadow—all we had. Two years ago—the
year of '48, when every man and boy answered the great voice—brother,
a dog's life!—to use a pen when all of your blood are fighting, but
it was decreed for me! My son was killed; my brothers taken—and
myself was thrown out like a dog—I had written out my heart, I had
written out all the blood that was in my body!" He seemed to tower, a
gaunt shadow of a man, with gloomy, flickering eyes staring at the wall.
Swithin rose, and stammered, "Much obliged—very interesting."
Boleskey made no effort to detain him, but continued staring at the wall.
"Good-night!" said Swithin, and stamped heavily downstairs.
When at last Swithin reached the Goldene Alp, he found his brother and
friend standing uneasily at the door. Traquair, a prematurely dried-up
man, with whiskers and a Scotch accent, remarked, "Ye're airly, man!"
Swithin growled something unintelligible, and swung up to bed. He
discovered a slight cut on his arm. He was in a savage temper—the
elements had conspired to show him things he did not want to see; yet now
and then a memory of Rozsi, of her soft palm in his, a sense of having
been stroked and flattered, came over him. During breakfast next morning
his brother and Traquair announced their intention of moving on. James
Forsyte, indeed, remarked that it was no place for a "collector," since
all the "old" shops were in the hands of Jews or very grasping persons—he
had discovered this at once. Swithin pushed his cup aside. "You may do
what you like," he said, "I'm staying here."
James Forsyte replied, tumbling over his own words: "Why! what do you want
to stay here for? There's nothing for you to do here—there's nothing
to see here, unless you go up the Citadel, an' you won't do that."
Swithin growled, "Who says so?" Having gratified his perversity, he felt
in a better temper. He had slung his arm in a silk sash, and accounted for
it by saying he had slipped. Later he went out and walked on to the
bridge. In the brilliant sunshine spires were glistening against the
pearly background of the hills; the town had a clean, joyous air. Swithin
glanced at the Citadel and thought, 'Looks a strong place! Shouldn't
wonder if it were impregnable!' And this for some occult reason gave him
pleasure. It occurred to him suddenly to go and look for the Hungarian's
About noon, after a hunt of two hours, he was gazing about him blankly,
pale with heat, but more obstinate than ever, when a voice above him
called, "Mister!" He looked up and saw Rozsi. She was leaning her round
chin on her round hand, gazing down at him with her deepset, clever eyes.
When Swithin removed his hat, she clapped her hands. Again he had the
sense of being admired, caressed. With a careless air, that sat
grotesquely on his tall square person, he walked up to the door; both
girls stood in the passage. Swithin felt a confused desire to speak in
some foreign tongue. "Maam'selles," he began, "er—bong jour-er, your
"We also speak English," said the elder girl; "will you come in, please?"
Swithin swallowed a misgiving, and entered. The room had a worn appearance
by daylight, as if it had always been the nest of tragic or vivid lives.
He sat down, and his eyes said: "I am a stranger, but don't try to get the
better of me, please—that is impossible." The girls looked at him in
silence. Rozsi wore a rather short skirt of black stuff, a white shirt,
and across her shoulders an embroidered yoke; her sister was dressed in
dark green, with a coral necklace; both girls had their hair in plaits.
After a minute Rozsi touched the sleeve of his hurt arm.
"It's nothing!" muttered Swithin.
"Father fought with a chair, but you had no chair," she said in a
He doubled the fist of his sound arm and struck a blow at space. To his
amazement she began to laugh. Nettled at this, he put his hand beneath the
heavy table and lifted it. Rozsi clapped her hands. "Ah I now I see—how
strong you are!" She made him a curtsey and whisked round to the window.
He found the quick intelligence of her eyes confusing; sometimes they
seemed to look beyond him at something invisible—this, too, confused
him. From Margit he learned that they had been two years in England, where
their father had made his living by teaching languages; they had now been
a year in Salzburg.
"We wait," suddenly said. Rozsi; and Margit, with a solemn face, repeated,
Swithin's eyes swelled a little with his desire to see what they were
waiting for. How queer they were, with their eyes that gazed beyond him!
He looked at their figures. 'She would pay for dressing,' he thought, and
he tried to imagine Rozsi in a skirt with proper flounces, a thin waist,
and hair drawn back over her ears. She would pay for dressing, with that
supple figure, fluffy hair, and little hands! And instantly his own hands,
face, and clothes disturbed him. He got up, examined the pistols on the
wall, and felt resentment at the faded, dusty room. 'Smells like a
pot-house!' he thought. He sat down again close to Rozsi.
"Do you love to dance?" she asked; "to dance is to live. First you hear
the music—how your feet itch! It is wonderful! You begin slow, quick—quicker;
you fly—you know nothing—your feet are in the air. It is
A slow flush had mounted into Swithin's face.
"Ah!" continued Rozsi, her eyes fixed on him, "when I am dancing—out
there I see the plains—your feet go one—two—three—quick,
quick, quick, quicker—you fly."
She stretched herself, a shiver seemed to pass all down her. "Margit!
dance!" and, to Swithin's consternation, the two girls—their hands
on each other's shoulders—began shuffling their feet and swaying to
and fro. Their heads were thrown back, their eyes half-closed; suddenly
the step quickened, they swung to one side, then to the other, and began
whirling round in front of him. The sudden fragrance of rose leaves
enveloped him. Round they flew again. While they were still dancing,
Boleskey came into the room. He caught Swithin by both hands.
"Brother, welcome! Ah! your arm is hurt! I do not forget." His yellow face
and deep-set eyes expressed a dignified gratitude. "Let me introduce to
you my friend Baron Kasteliz."
Swithin bowed to a man with a small forehead, who had appeared softly, and
stood with his gloved hands touching his waist. Swithin conceived a sudden
aversion for this catlike man. About Boleskey there was that which made
contempt impossible—the sense of comradeship begotten in the fight;
the man's height; something lofty and savage in his face; and an obscure
instinct that it would not pay to show distaste; but this Kasteliz, with
his neat jaw, low brow, and velvety, volcanic look, excited his proper
English animosity. "Your friends are mine," murmured Kasteliz. He spoke
with suavity, and hissed his s's. A long, vibrating twang quavered through
the room. Swithin turned and saw Rozsi sitting at the czymbal; the notes
rang under the little hammers in her hands, incessant, metallic, rising
and falling with that strange melody. Kasteliz had fixed his glowing eyes
on her; Boleskey, nodding his head, was staring at the floor; Margit, with
a pale face, stood like a statue.
'What can they see in it?' thought Swithin; 'it's not a tune.' He took up
his hat. Rozsi saw him and stopped; her lips had parted with a faintly
dismayed expression. His sense of personal injury diminished; he even felt
a little sorry for her. She jumped up from her seat and twirled round with
a pout. An inspiration seized on Swithin. "Come and dine with me," he said
to Boleskey, "to-morrow—the Goldene Alp—bring your friend." He
felt the eyes of the whole room on him—the Hungarian's fine eyes;
Margit's wide glance; the narrow, hot gaze of Kasteliz; and lastly—Rozsi's.
A glow of satisfaction ran down his spine. When he emerged into the street
he thought gloomily, 'Now I've done it!' And not for some paces did he
look round; then, with a forced smile, turned and removed his hat to the
faces at the window.
Notwithstanding this moment of gloom, however, he was in an exalted state
all day, and at dinner kept looking at his brother and Traquair
enigmatically. 'What do they know of life?' he thought; 'they might be
here a year and get no farther.' He made jokes, and pinned the menu to the
waiter's coat-tails. "I like this place," he said, "I shall spend three
weeks here." James, whose lips were on the point of taking in a plum,
looked at him uneasily.
On the day of the dinner Swithin suffered a good deal. He reflected
gloomily on Boleskey's clothes. He had fixed an early hour—there
would be fewer people to see them. When the time approached he attired
himself with a certain neat splendour, and though his arm was still sore,
left off the sling....
Nearly three hours afterwards he left the Goldene Alp between his guests.
It was sunset, and along the riverbank the houses stood out, unsoftened by
the dusk; the streets were full of people hurrying home. Swithin had a
hazy vision of empty bottles, of the ground before his feet, and the
accessibility of all the world. Dim recollections of the good things he
had said, of his brother and Traquair seated in the background eating
ordinary meals with inquiring, acid visages, caused perpetual smiles to
break out on his face, and he steered himself stubbornly, to prove that he
was a better man than either' of his guests. He knew, vaguely, that he was
going somewhere with an object; Rozsi's face kept dancing before him, like
a promise. Once or twice he gave Kasteliz a glassy stare. Towards
Boleskey, on the other hand, he felt quite warm, and recalled with
admiration the way he had set his glass down empty, time after time. 'I
like to see him take his liquor,' he thought; 'the fellow's a gentleman,
after all.' Boleskey strode on, savagely inattentive to everything; and
Kasteliz had become more like a cat than ever. It was nearly dark when
they reached a narrow street close to the cathedral. They stopped at a
door held open by an old woman. The change from the fresh air to a heated
corridor, the noise of the door closed behind him, the old woman's anxious
glances, sobered Swithin.
"I tell her," said Boleskey, "that I reply for you as for my son."
Swithin was angry. What business had this man to reply for him!
They passed into a large room, crowded with men all women; Swithin noticed
that they all looked fit him. He stared at them in turn—they seemed
of all classes, some in black coats or silk dresses, others in the clothes
of work-people; one man, a cobbler, still wore his leather apron, as if he
had rushed there straight from his work. Laying his hand on Swithin's arm,
Boleskey evidently began explaining who he was; hands were extended,
people beyond reach bowed to him. Swithin acknowledged the greetings with
a stiff motion of his head; then seeing other people dropping into seats,
he, too, sat down. Some one whispered his name—Margit and Rozsi were
just behind him.
"Welcome!" said Margit; but Swithin was looking at Rozsi. Her face was so
alive and quivering! 'What's the excitement all about?' he thought. 'How
pretty she looks!' She blushed, drew in her hands with a quick tense
movement, and gazed again beyond him into the room. 'What is it?' thought
Swithin; he had a longing to lean back and kiss her lips. He tried angrily
to see what she was seeing in those faces turned all one way.
Boleskey rose to speak. No one moved; not a sound could be heard but the
tone of his deep voice. On and on he went, fierce and solemn, and with the
rise of his voice, all those faces-fair or swarthy—seemed to be
glowing with one and the same feeling. Swithin felt the white heat in
those faces—it was not decent! In that whole speech he only
understood the one word—"Magyar" which came again and again. He
almost dozed off at last. The twang of a czymbal woke him. 'What?' he
thought, 'more of that infernal music!' Margit, leaning over him,
whispered: "Listen! Racoczy! It is forbidden!" Swithin saw that Rozsi was
no longer in her seat; it was she who was striking those forbidden notes.
He looked round—everywhere the same unmoving faces, the same
entrancement, and fierce stillness. The music sounded muffled, as if it,
too, were bursting its heart in silence. Swithin felt within him a touch
of panic. Was this a den of tigers? The way these people listened, the
ferocity of their stillness, was frightful...! He gripped his chair and
broke into a perspiration; was there no chance to get away? 'When it
stops,' he thought, 'there'll be a rush!' But there was only a greater
silence. It flashed across him that any hostile person coming in then
would be torn to pieces. A woman sobbed. The whole thing was beyond words
unpleasant. He rose, and edged his way furtively towards the doorway.
There was a cry of "Police!" The whole crowd came pressing after him.
Swithin would soon have been out, but a little behind he caught sight of
Rozsi swept off her feet. Her frightened eyes angered him. 'She doesn't
deserve it,' he thought sulkily; 'letting all this loose!' and forced his
way back to her. She clung to him, and a fever went stealing through his
veins; he butted forward at the crowd, holding her tight. When they were
outside he let her go.
"I was afraid," she said.
"Afraid!" muttered Swithin; "I should think so." No longer touching her,
he felt his grievance revive.
"But you are so strong," she murmured.
"This is no place for you," growled Swithin, "I'm going to see you home."
"Oh!" cried Rozsi; "but papa and—Margit!"
"That's their look-out!" and he hurried her away.
She slid her hand under his arm; the soft curves of her form brushed him
gently, each touch only augmented his ill-humour. He burned with a
perverse rage, as if all the passions in him were simmering and ready to
boil over; it was as if a poison were trying to work its way out of him,
through the layers of his stolid flesh. He maintained a dogged silence;
Rozsi, too, said nothing, but when they reached the door, she drew her
"You are angry!" she said.
"Angry," muttered Swithin; "no! How d'you make that out?" He had a
torturing desire to kiss her.
"Yes, you are angry," she repeated; "I wait here for papa and Margit."
Swithin also waited, wedged against the wall. Once or twice, for his sight
was sharp, he saw her steal a look at him, a beseeching look, and hardened
his heart with a kind of pleasure. After five minutes Boleskey, Margit,
and Kasteliz appeared. Seeing Rozsi they broke into exclamations of
relief, and Kasteliz, with a glance at Swithin, put his lips to her hand.
Rozsi's look said, "Wouldn't you like to do that?" Swithin turned short on
his heel, and walked away.
All night he hardly slept, suffering from fever, for the first time in his
life. Once he jumped out of bed, lighted a candle, and going to the glass,
scrutinised himself long and anxiously. After this he fell asleep, but had
frightful dreams. His first thought when he woke was, 'My liver's out of
order!' and, thrusting his head into cold water, he dressed hastily and
went out. He soon left the house behind. Dew covered everything;
blackbirds whistled in the bushes; the air was fresh and sweet. He had not
been up so early since he was a boy. Why was he walking through a damp
wood at this hour of the morning? Something intolerable and unfamiliar
must have sent him out. No fellow in his senses would do such a thing! He
came to a dead stop, and began unsteadily to walk back. Regaining the
hotel, he went to bed again, and dreamed that in some wild country he was
living in a room full of insects, where a housemaid—Rozsi—holding
a broom, looked at him with mournful eyes. There seemed an unexplained
need for immediate departure; he begged her to forward his things; and
shake them out carefully before she put them into the trunk. He understood
that the charge for sending would be twenty-two shillings, thought it a
great deal, and had the horrors of indecision. "No," he muttered, "pack,
and take them myself." The housemaid turned suddenly into a lean creature;
and he awoke with a sore feeling in his heart.
His eye fell on his wet boots. The whole thing was scaring, and jumping
up, he began to throw his clothes into his trunks. It was twelve o'clock
before he went down, and found his brother and Traquair still at the table
arranging an itinerary; he surprised them by saying that he too was
coming; and without further explanation set to work to eat. James had
heard that there were salt-mines in the neighbourhood—his proposal
was to start, and halt an hour or so on the road for their inspection; he
said: "Everybody'll ask you if you've seen the salt-mines: I shouldn't
like to say I hadn't seen the salt-mines. What's the good, they'd say, of
your going there if you haven't seen the salt-mines?" He wondered, too, if
they need fee the second waiter—an idle chap!
A discussion followed; but Swithin ate on glumly, conscious that his mind
was set on larger affairs. Suddenly on the far side of the street Rozsi
and her sister passed, with little baskets on their arms. He started up,
and at that moment Rozsi looked round—her face was the incarnation
of enticement, the chin tilted, the lower lip thrust a little forward, her
round neck curving back over her shoulder. Swithin muttered, "Make your
own arrangements—leave me out!" and hurried from the room, leaving
James beside himself with interest and alarm.
When he reached the street, however, the girls had disappeared. He hailed
a carriage. "Drive!" he called to the man, with a flourish of his stick,
and as soon as the wheels had begun to clatter on the stones he leaned
back, looking sharply to right and left. He soon had to give up thought of
finding them, but made the coachman turn round and round again. All day he
drove about, far into the country, and kept urging the driver to use
greater speed. He was in a strange state of hurry and elation. Finally, he
dined at a little country inn; and this gave the measure of his
disturbance—the dinner was atrocious.
Returning late in the evening he found a note written by Traquair. "Are
you in your senses, man?" it asked; "we have no more time to waste idling
about here. If you want to rejoin us, come on to Danielli's Hotel,
Venice." Swithin chuckled when he read it, and feeling frightfully tired,
went to bed and slept like a log.
Three weeks later he was still in Salzburg, no longer at the Goldene Alp,
but in rooms over a shop near the Boleskeys'. He had spent a small fortune
in the purchase of flowers. Margit would croon over them, but Rozsi, with
a sober "Many tanks!" as if they were her right, would look long at
herself in the glass, and pin one into her hair. Swithin ceased to wonder;
he ceased to wonder at anything they did. One evening he found Boleskey
deep in conversation with a pale, dishevelled-looking person.
"Our friend Mr. Forsyte—Count D....," said Boleskey.
Swithin experienced a faint, unavoidable emotion; but looking at the
Count's trousers, he thought: 'Doesn't look much like one!' And with an
ironic bow to the silent girls, he turned, and took his hat. But when he
had reached the bottom of the dark stairs he heard footsteps. Rozsi came
running down, looked out at the door, and put her hands up to her breast
as if disappointed; suddenly with a quick glance round she saw him.
Swithin caught her arm. She slipped away, and her face seemed to bubble
with defiance or laughter; she ran up three steps, stopped, looked at him
across her shoulder, and fled on up the stairs. Swithin went out
bewildered and annoyed.
'What was she going to say to me?' he kept thinking. During these three
weeks he had asked himself all sorts of questions: whether he were being
made a fool of; whether she were in love with him; what he was doing
there, and sometimes at night, with all his candles burning as if he
wanted light, the breeze blowing on him through the window, his cigar,
half-smoked, in his hand, he sat, an hour or more, staring at the wall.
'Enough of this!' he thought every morning. Twice he packed fully—once
he ordered his travelling carriage, but countermanded it the following
day. What definitely he hoped, intended, resolved, he could not have said.
He was always thinking of Rozsi, he could not read the riddle in her face—she
held him in a vice, notwithstanding that everything about her threatened
the very fetishes of his existence. And Boleskey! Whenever he looked at
him he thought, 'If he were only clean?' and mechanically fingered his own
well-tied cravatte. To talk with the fellow, too, was like being forced to
look at things which had no place in the light of day. Freedom, equality,
'Why can't he settle down at some business,' he thought, 'instead of all
this talk?' Boleskey's sudden diffidences, self-depreciation, fits of
despair, irritated him. "Morbid beggar!" he would mutter; "thank God I
haven't a thin skin." And proud too! Extraordinary! An impecunious fellow
like that! One evening, moreover, Boleskey had returned home drunk.
Swithin had hustled him away into his bedroom, helped him to undress, and
stayed until he was asleep. 'Too much of a good thing!' he thought,
'before his own daughters, too!' It was after this that he ordered his
travelling carriage. The other occasion on which he packed was one
evening, when not only Boleskey, but Rozsi herself had picked chicken
bones with her fingers.
Often in the mornings he would go to the Mirabell Garden to smoke his
cigar; there, in stolid contemplation of the statues—rows of
half-heroic men carrying off half-distressful females—he would spend
an hour pleasantly, his hat tilted to keep the sun off his nose. The day
after Rozsi had fled from him on the stairs, he came there as usual. It
was a morning of blue sky and sunlight glowing on the old prim garden, on
its yew-trees, and serio-comic statues, and walls covered with apricots
and plums. When Swithin approached his usual seat, who should be sitting
there but Rozsi—"Good-morning," he stammered; "you knew this was my
Rozsi looked at the ground. "Yes," she answered.
Swithin felt bewildered. "Do you know," he said, "you treat me very
To his surprise Rozsi put her little soft hand down and touched his; then,
without a word, sprang up and rushed away. It took him a minute to
recover. There were people present; he did not like to run, but overtook
her on the bridge, and slipped her hand beneath his arm.
"You shouldn't have done that," he said; "you shouldn't have run away from
me, you know."
Rozsi laughed. Swithin withdrew his arm; a desire to shake her seized him.
He walked some way before he said, "Will you have the goodness to tell me
what you came to that seat for?"
Rozsi flashed a look at him. "To-morrow is the fete," she answered.
Swithin muttered, "Is that all?"
"If you do not take us, we cannot go."
"Suppose I refuse," he said sullenly, "there are plenty of others."
Rozsi bent her head, scurrying along. "No," she murmured, "if you do not
go—I do not wish."
Swithin drew her hand back within his arm. How round and soft it was! He
tried to see her face. When she was nearly home he said goodbye, not
wishing, for some dark reason, to be seen with her. He watched till she
had disappeared; then slowly retraced his steps to the Mirabell Garden.
When he came to where she had been sitting, he slowly lighted his cigar,
and for a long time after it was smoked out remained there in the silent
presence of the statues.
A crowd of people wandered round the booths, and Swithin found himself
obliged to give the girls his arms. 'Like a little Cockney clerk!' he
thought. His indignation passed unnoticed; they talked, they laughed, each
sight and sound in all the hurly-burly seemed to go straight into their
hearts. He eyed them ironically—their eager voices, and little coos
of sympathy seemed to him vulgar. In the thick of the crowd he slipped his
arm out of Margit's, but, just as he thought that he was free, the
unwelcome hand slid up again. He tried again, but again Margit reappeared,
serene, and full of pleasant humour; and his failure this time appeared to
him in a comic light. But when Rozsi leaned across him, the glow of her
round cheek, her curving lip, the inscrutable grey gleam of her eyes, sent
a thrill of longing through him. He was obliged to stand by while they
parleyed with a gipsy, whose matted locks and skinny hands inspired him
with a not unwarranted disgust. "Folly!" he muttered, as Rozsi held out
her palm. The old woman mumbled, and shot a malignant look at him. Rozsi
drew back her hand, and crossed herself. 'Folly!' Swithin thought again;
and seizing the girls' arms, he hurried them away.
"What did the old hag say?" he asked.
Rozsi shook her head.
"You don't mean that you believe?"
Her eyes were full of tears. "The gipsies are wise," she murmured.
"Come, what did she tell you?"
This time Rozsi looked hurriedly round, and slipped away into the crowd.
After a hunt they found her, and Swithin, who was scared, growled: "You
shouldn't do such things—it's not respectable."
On higher ground, in the centre of a clear space, a military band was
playing. For the privilege of entering this charmed circle Swithin paid
three kronen, choosing naturally the best seats. He ordered wine, too,
watching Rozsi out of the corner of his eye as he poured it out. The
protecting tenderness of yesterday was all lost in this medley. It was
every man for himself, after all! The colour had deepened again in her
cheeks, she laughed, pouting her lips. Suddenly she put her glass aside.
"Thank you, very much," she said, "it is enough!"
Margit, whose pretty mouth was all smiles, cried, "Lieber Gott! is it not
good-life?" It was not a question Swithin could undertake to answer. The
band began to play a waltz. "Now they will dance. Lieber Gott! and are the
lights not wonderful?" Lamps were flickering beneath the trees like a
swarm of fireflies. There was a hum as from a gigantic beehive. Passers-by
lifted their faces, then vanished into the crowd; Rozsi stood gazing at
them spellbound, as if their very going and coming were a delight.
The space was soon full of whirling couples. Rozsi's head began to beat
time. "O Margit!" she whispered.
Swithin's face had assumed a solemn, uneasy expression. A man raising his
hat, offered his arm to Margit. She glanced back across her shoulder to
reassure Swithin. "It is a friend," she said.
Swithin looked at Rozsi—her eyes were bright, her lips tremulous. He
slipped his hand along the table and touched her fingers. Then she flashed
a look at him—appeal, reproach, tenderness, all were expressed in
it. Was she expecting him to dance? Did she want to mix with the rift-raff
there; wish him to make an exhibition of himself in this hurly-burly? A
voice said, "Good-evening!" Before them stood Kasteliz, in a dark coat
tightly buttoned at the waist.
"You are not dancing, Rozsi Kozsanony?" (Miss Rozsi). "Let me, then, have
the pleasure." He held out his arm. Swithin stared in front of him. In the
very act of going she gave him a look that said as plain as words: "Will
you not?" But for answer he turned his eyes away, and when he looked again
she was gone. He paid the score and made his way into the crowd. But as he
went she danced by close to him, all flushed and panting. She hung back as
if to stop him, and he caught the glistening of tears. Then he lost sight
of her again. To be deserted the first minute he was alone with her, and
for that jackanapes with the small head and the volcanic glances! It was
too much! And suddenly it occurred to him that she was alone with Kasteliz—alone
at night, and far from home. 'Well,' he thought, 'what do I care?' and
shouldered his way on through the crowd. It served him right for mixing
with such people here. He left the fair, but the further he went, the more
he nursed his rage, the more heinous seemed her offence, the sharper grew
his jealousy. "A beggarly baron!" was his thought.
A figure came alongside—it was Boleskey. One look showed Swithin his
condition. Drunk again! This was the last straw!
Unfortunately Boleskey had recognised him. He seemed violently excited.
"Where—where are my daughters?" he began.
Swithin brushed past, but Boleskey caught his arm. "Listen—brother!"
he said; "news of my country! After to-morrow...."
"Keep it to yourself!" growled Swithin, wrenching his arm free. He went
straight to his lodgings, and, lying on the hard sofa of his unlighted
sitting-room, gave himself up to bitter thoughts. But in spite of all his
anger, Rozsi's supply-moving figure, with its pouting lips, and roguish
appealing eyes, still haunted him.
Next morning there was not a carriage to be had, and Swithin was compelled
to put off his departure till the morrow. The day was grey and misty; he
wandered about with the strained, inquiring look of a lost dog in his
Late in the afternoon he went back to his lodgings. In a corner of the
sitting-room stood Rozsi. The thrill of triumph, the sense of appeasement,
the emotion, that seized on him, crept through to his lips in a faint
smile. Rozsi made no sound, her face was hidden by her hands. And this
silence of hers weighed on Swithin. She was forcing him to break it. What
was behind her hands? His own face was visible! Why didn't she speak? Why
was she here? Alone? That was not right surely.
Suddenly Rozsi dropped her hands; her flushed face was quivering—it
seemed as though a word, a sign, even, might bring a burst of tears.
He walked over to the window. 'I must give her time!' he thought; then
seized by unreasoning terror at this silence, spun round, and caught her
by the arms. Rozsi held back from him, swayed forward and buried her face
on his breast....
Half an hour later Swithin was pacing up and down his room. The scent of
rose leaves had not yet died away. A glove lay on the floor; he picked it
up, and for a long time stood weighing it in his hand. All sorts of
confused thoughts and feelings haunted him. It was the purest and least
selfish moment of his life, this moment after she had yielded. But that
pure gratitude at her fiery, simple abnegation did not last; it was
followed by a petty sense of triumph, and by uneasiness. He was still
weighing the little glove in his hand, when he had another visitor. It was
"What can I do for you?" Swithin asked ironically.
The Hungarian seemed suffering from excitement. Why had Swithin left his
charges the night before? What excuse had he to make? What sort of conduct
did he call this?
Swithin, very like a bull-dog at that moment, answered: What business was
it of his?
The business of a gentleman! What right had the Englishman to pursue a
"Pursue?" said Swithin; "you've been spying, then?"
"Spying—I—Kasteliz—Maurus Johann—an insult!"
"Insult!" sneered Swithin; "d'you mean to tell me you weren't in the
street just now?"
Kasteliz answered with a hiss, "If you do not leave the city I will make
you, with my sword—do you understand?"
"And if you do not leave my room I will throw you out of the window!"
For some minutes Kasteliz spoke in pure Hungarian while Swithin waited,
with a forced smile and a fixed look in his eye. He did not understand
"If you are still in the city to-morrow evening," said Kasteliz at last in
English, "I will spit you in the street."
Swithin turned to the window and watched his visitor's retiring back with
a queer mixture of amusement, stubbornness, and anxiety. 'Well,' he
thought, 'I suppose he'll run me through!' The thought was unpleasant; and
it kept recurring, but it only served to harden his determination. His
head was busy with plans for seeing Rozsi; his blood on fire with the
kisses she had given him.
Swithin was long in deciding to go forth next day. He had made up his mind
not to go to Rozsi till five o'clock. 'Mustn't make myself too cheap,' he
thought. It was a little past that hour when he at last sallied out, and
with a beating heart walked towards Boleskey's. He looked up at the
window, more than half expecting to see Rozsi there; but she was not, and
he noticed with faint surprise that the window was not open; the plants,
too, outside, looked singularly arid. He knocked. No one came. He beat a
fierce tattoo. At last the door was opened by a man with a reddish beard,
and one of those sardonic faces only to be seen on shoemakers of Teutonic
"What do you want, making all this noise?" he asked in German.
Swithin pointed up the stairs. The man grinned, and shook his head.
"I want to go up," said Swithin.
The cobbler shrugged his shoulders, and Swithin rushed upstairs. The rooms
were empty. The furniture remained, but all signs of life were gone. One
of his own bouquets, faded, stood in a glass; the ashes of a fire were
barely cold; little scraps of paper strewed the hearth; already the room
smelt musty. He went into the bedrooms, and with a feeling of stupefaction
stood staring at the girls' beds, side by side against the wall. A bit of
ribbon caught his eye; he picked it up and put it in his pocket—it
was a piece of evidence that she had once existed. By the mirror some pins
were dropped about; a little powder had been spilled. He looked at his own
disquiet face and thought, 'I've been cheated!'
The shoemaker's voice aroused him. "Tausend Teufel! Eilen Sie, nur! Zeit
is Geld! Kann nich' Langer warten!" Slowly he descended.
"Where have they gone?" asked Swithin painfully. "A pound for every
English word you speak. A pound!" and he made an O with his fingers.
The corners of the shoemaker's lips curled. "Geld! Mf! Eilen Sie, nur!"
But in Swithin a sullen anger had begun to burn. "If you don't tell me,"
he said, "it'll be the worse for you."
"Sind ein komischer Kerl!" remarked the shoemaker. "Hier ist meine Frau!"
A battered-looking woman came hurrying down the passage, calling out in
German, "Don't let him go!"
With a snarling sound the shoemaker turned his back, and shambled off.
The woman furtively thrust a letter into Swithin's hand, and furtively
The letter was from Rozsi.
"Forgive me"—it ran—"that I leave you and do not say goodbye.
To-day our father had the call from our dear Father-town so long awaited.
In two hours we are ready. I pray to the Virgin to keep you ever safe, and
that you do not quite forget me.—Your unforgetting good friend,
When Swithin read it his first sensation was that of a man sinking in a
bog; then his obstinacy stiffened. 'I won't be done,' he thought. Taking
out a sovereign he tried to make the woman comprehend that she could earn
it, by telling him where they had gone. He got her finally to write the
words out in his pocket-book, gave her the sovereign, and hurried to the
Goldene Alp, where there was a waiter who spoke English. The translation
given him was this:
"At three o'clock they start in a carriage on the road to Linz—they
have bad horses—the Herr also rides a white horse."
Swithin at once hailed a carriage and started at full gallop on the road
to Linz. Outside the Mirabell Garden he caught sight of Kasteliz and
grinned at him. 'I've sold him anyway,' he thought; 'for all their talk,
they're no good, these foreigners!'
His spirits rose, but soon fell again. What chance had he of catching
them? They had three hours' start! Still, the roads were heavy from the
rain of the last two nights—they had luggage and bad horses; his own
were good, his driver bribed—he might overtake them by ten o'clock!
But did he want to? What a fool he had been not to bring his luggage; he
would then have had a respectable position. What a brute he would look
without a change of shirt, or anything to shave with! He saw himself with
horror, all bristly, and in soiled linen. People would think him mad.
'I've given myself away,' flashed across him, 'what the devil can I say to
them?' and he stared sullenly at the driver's back. He read Rozsi's letter
again; it had a scent of her. And in the growing darkness, jolted by the
swinging of the carriage, he suffered tortures from his prudence, tortures
from his passion.
It grew colder and dark. He turned the collar of his coat up to his ears.
He had visions of Piccadilly. This wild-goose chase appeared suddenly a
dangerous, unfathomable business. Lights, fellowship, security! 'Never
again!' he brooded; 'why won't they let me alone?' But it was not clear
whether by 'they' he meant the conventions, the Boleskeys, his passions,
or those haunting memories of Rozsi. If he had only had a bag with him!
What was he going to say? What was he going to get by this? He received no
answer to these questions. The darkness itself was less obscure than his
sensations. From time to time he took out his watch. At each village the
driver made inquiries. It was past ten when he stopped the carriage with a
jerk. The stars were bright as steel, and by the side of the road a reedy
lake showed in the moonlight. Swithin shivered. A man on a horse had
halted in the centre of the road. "Drive on!" called Swithin, with a
stolid face. It turned out to be Boleskey, who, on a gaunt white horse,
looked like some winged creature. He stood where he could bar the progress
of the carriage, holding out a pistol.
'Theatrical beggar!' thought Swithin, with a nervous smile. He made no
sign of recognition. Slowly Boleskey brought his lean horse up to the
carriage. When he saw who was within he showed astonishment and joy.
"You?" he cried, slapping his hand on his attenuated thigh, and leaning
over till his beard touched Swithin. "You have come? You followed us?"
"It seems so," Swithin grunted out.
"You throw in your lot with us. Is it possible? You—you are a
"Good God!" said Swithin. Boleskey, flogging his dejected steed, cantered
forward in the moonlight. He came back, bringing an old cloak, which he
insisted on wrapping round Swithin's shoulders. He handed him, too, a
"How cold you look!" he said. "Wonderful! Wonderful! you English!" His
grateful eyes never left Swithin for a moment. They had come up to the
heels of the other carriage now, but Swithin, hunched in the cloak, did
not try to see what was in front of him. To the bottom of his soul he
resented the Hungarian's gratitude. He remarked at last, with wasted
"You're in a hurry, it seems!"
"If we had wings," Boleskey answered, "we would use them."
"Wings!" muttered Swithin thickly; "legs are good enough for me."
Arrived at the inn where they were to pass the night, Swithin waited,
hoping to get into the house without a "scene," but when at last he
alighted the girls were in the doorway, and Margit greeted him with an
admiring murmur, in which, however, he seemed to detect irony. Rozsi, pale
and tremulous, with a half-scared look, gave him her hand, and, quickly
withdrawing it, shrank behind her sister. When they had gone up to their
room Swithin sought Boleskey. His spirits had risen remarkably. "Tell the
landlord to get us supper," he said; "we'll crack a bottle to our luck."
He hurried on the landlord's preparations. The window of the room faced a
wood, so near that he could almost touch the trees. The scent from the
pines blew in on him. He turned away from that scented darkness, and began
to draw the corks of winebottles. The sound seemed to conjure up Boleskey.
He came in, splashed all over, smelling slightly of stables; soon after,
Margit appeared, fresh and serene, but Rozsi did not come.
"Where is your sister?" Swithin said. Rozsi, it seemed, was tired. "It
will do her good to eat," said Swithin. And Boleskey, murmuring, "She must
drink to our country," went out to summon her, Margit followed him, while
Swithin cut up a chicken. They came back without her. She had "a megrim of
Swithin's face fell. "Look here!" he said, "I'll go and try. Don't wait
"Yes," answered Boleskey, sinking mournfully into a chair; "try, brother,
try-by all means, try."
Swithin walked down the corridor with an odd, sweet, sinking sensation in
his chest; and tapped on Rozsi's door. In a minute, she peeped forth, with
her hair loose, and wondering eyes.
"Rozsi," he stammered, "what makes you afraid of me, now?"
She stared at him, but did not answer.
"Why won't you come?"
Still she did not speak, but suddenly stretched out to him her bare arm.
Swithin pressed his face to it. With a shiver, she whispered above him, "I
will come," and gently shut the door.
Swithin stealthily retraced his steps, and paused a minute outside the
sitting-room to regain his self-control.
The sight of Boleskey with a bottle in his hand steadied him.
"She is coming," he said. And very soon she did come, her thick hair
roughly twisted in a plait.
Swithin sat between the girls; but did not talk, for he was really hungry.
Boleskey too was silent, plunged in gloom; Rozsi was dumb; Margit alone
"You will come to our Father-town? We shall have things to show you.
Rozsi, what things we will show him!" Rozsi, with a little appealing
movement of her hands, repeated, "What things we will show you!" She
seemed suddenly to find her voice, and with glowing cheeks, mouths full,
and eyes bright as squirrels', they chattered reminiscences of the "dear
Father-town," of "dear friends," of the "dear home."
'A poor place!' Swithin could not help thinking. This enthusiasm seemed to
him common; but he was careful to assume a look of interest, feeding on
the glances flashed at him from Rozsi's restless eyes.
As the wine waned Boleskey grew more and more gloomy, but now and then a
sort of gleaming flicker passed over his face. He rose to his feet at
"Let us not forget," he said, "that we go perhaps to ruin, to death; in
the face of all this we go, because our country needs—in this there
is no credit, neither to me nor to you, my daughters; but for this noble
Englishman, what shall we say? Give thanks to God for a great heart. He
comes—not for country, not for fame, not for money, but to help the
weak and the oppressed. Let us drink, then, to him; let us drink again and
again to heroic Forsyte!" In the midst of the dead silence, Swithin caught
the look of suppliant mockery in Rozsi's eyes. He glanced at the
Hungarian. Was he laughing at him? But Boleskey, after drinking up his
wine, had sunk again into his seat; and there suddenly, to the surprise of
all, he began to snore. Margit rose and, bending over him like a mother,
murmured: "He is tired—it is the ride!" She raised him in her strong
arms, and leaning on her shoulder Boleskey staggered from the room.
Swithin and Rozsi were left alone. He slid his hand towards her hand that
lay so close, on the rough table-cloth. It seemed to await his touch.
Something gave way in him, and words came welling up; for the moment he
forgot himself, forgot everything but that he was near her. Her head
dropped on his shoulder, he breathed the perfume of her hair.
"Good-night!" she whispered, and the whisper was like a kiss; yet before
he could stop her she was gone. Her footsteps died away in the passage,
but Swithin sat gazing intently at a single bright drop of spilt wine
quivering on the table's edge. In that moment she, in her helplessness and
emotion, was all in all to him—his life nothing; all the real things—his
conventions, convictions, training, and himself—all seemed remote,
behind a mist of passion and strange chivalry. Carefully with a bit of
bread he soaked up the bright drop; and suddenly he thought: 'This is
tremendous!' For a long time he stood there in the window, close to the
In the early morning he awoke, full of the discomfort of this strange
place and the medley of his dreams. Lying, with his nose peeping over the
quilt, he was visited by a horrible suspicion. When he could bear it no
longer, he started up in bed. What if it were all a plot to get him to
marry her? The thought was treacherous, and inspired in him a faint
disgust. Still, she might be ignorant of it! But was she so innocent? What
innocent girl would have come to his room like that? What innocent girl?
Her father, who pretended to be caring only for his country? It was not
probable that any man was such a fool; it was all part of the game-a
scheming rascal! Kasteliz, too—his threats! They intended him to
marry her! And the horrid idea was strengthened by his reverence for
marriage. It was the proper, the respectable condition; he was genuinely
afraid of this other sort of liaison—it was somehow too primitive!
And yet the thought of that marriage made his blood run cold. Considering
that she had already yielded, it would be all the more monstrous! With the
cold, fatal clearness of the morning light he now for the first time saw
his position in its full bearings. And, like a fish pulled out of water,
he gasped at what was disclosed. Sullen resentment against this attempt to
force him settled deep into his soul.
He seated himself on the bed, holding his head in his hands, solemnly
thinking out what such marriage meant. In the first place it meant
ridicule, in the next place ridicule, in the last place ridicule. She
would eat chicken bones with her fingers—those fingers his lips
still burned to kiss. She would dance wildly with other men. She would
talk of her "dear Father-town," and all the time her eyes would look
beyond him, some where or other into some d—d place he knew nothing
of. He sprang up and paced the room, and for a moment thought he would go
They meant him to marry her! Even she—she meant him to marry her!
Her tantalising inscrutability; her sudden little tendernesses; her quick
laughter; her swift, burning kisses; even the movements of her hands; her
tears—all were evidence against her. Not one of these things that
Nature made her do counted on her side, but how they fanned his longing,
his desire, and distress! He went to the glass and tried to part his hair
with his fingers, but being rather fine, it fell into lank streaks. There
was no comfort to be got from it. He drew his muddy boots on. Suddenly he
thought: 'If I could see her alone, I could arrive at some arrangement!'
Then, with a sense of stupefaction, he made the discovery that no
arrangement could possibly be made that would not be dangerous, even
desperate. He seized his hat, and, like a rabbit that has been fired at,
bolted from the room. He plodded along amongst the damp woods with his
head down, and resentment and dismay in his heart. But, as the sun rose,
and the air grew sweet with pine scent, he slowly regained a sort of
equability. After all, she had already yielded; it was not as if...! And
the tramp of his own footsteps lulled him into feeling that it would all
'Look at the thing practically,' he thought. The faster he walked the
firmer became his conviction that he could still see it through. He took
out his watch—it was past seven—he began to hasten back. In
the yard of the inn his driver was harnessing the horses; Swithin went up
"Who told you to put them in?" he asked.
The driver answered, "Der Herr."
Swithin turned away. 'In ten minutes,' he thought, 'I shall be in that
carriage again, with this going on in my head! Driving away from England,
from all I'm used to-driving to-what?' Could he face it? Could he face all
that he had been through that morning; face it day after day, night after
night? Looking up, he saw Rozsi at her open window gazing down at him;
never had she looked sweeter, more roguish. An inexplicable terror seized
on him; he ran across the yard and jumped into his carriage. "To
Salzburg!" he cried; "drive on!" And rattling out of the yard without a
look behind, he flung a sovereign at the hostler. Flying back along the
road faster even than he had come, with pale face, and eyes blank and
staring like a pug-dog's, Swithin spoke no single word; nor, till he had
reached the door of his lodgings, did he suffer the driver to draw rein.
Towards evening, five days later, Swithin, yellow and travel-worn, was
ferried in a gondola to Danielli's Hotel. His brother, who was on the
steps, looked at him with an apprehensive curiosity.
"Why, it's you!" he mumbled. "So you've got here safe?"
"Safe?" growled Swithin.
James replied, "I thought you wouldn't leave your friends!" Then, with a
jerk of suspicion, "You haven't brought your friends?"
"What friends?" growled Swithin.
James changed the subject. "You don't look the thing," he said.
"Really!" muttered Swithin; "what's that to you?"
He appeared at dinner that night, but fell asleep over his coffee. Neither
Traquair nor James asked him any further question, nor did they allude to
Salzburg; and during the four days which concluded the stay in Venice
Swithin went about with his head up, but his eyes half-closed like a dazed
man. Only after they had taken ship at Genoa did he show signs of any
healthy interest in life, when, finding that a man on board was
perpetually strumming, he locked the piano up and pitched the key into the
That winter in London he behaved much as usual, but fits of moroseness
would seize on him, during which he was not pleasant to approach.
One evening when he was walking with a friend in Piccadilly, a girl coming
from a side-street accosted him in German. Swithin, after staring at her
in silence for some seconds, handed her a five-pound note, to the great
amazement of his friend; nor could he himself have explained the meaning
of this freak of generosity.
Of Rozsi he never heard again....
This, then, was the substance of what he remembered as he lay ill in bed.
Stretching out his hand he pressed the bell. His valet appeared, crossing
the room like a cat; a Swede, who had been with Swithin many years; a
little man with a dried face and fierce moustache, morbidly sharp nerves,
and a queer devotion to his master.
Swithin made a feeble gesture. "Adolf," he said, "I'm very bad."
"Why do you stand there like a cow?" asked Swithin; "can't you see I'm
"Yes, sir!" The valet's face twitched as though it masked the dance of
"I shall feel better after dinner. What time is it?"
"I thought it was more. The afternoons are very long."
"Yes, sir!" Swithin sighed, as though he had expected the consolation of
"Very likely I shall have a nap. Bring up hot water at half-past six and
shave me before dinner."
The valet moved towards the door. Swithin raised himself.
"What did Mr. James say to you?"
"He said you ought to have another doctor; two doctors, he said, better
than one. He said, also, he would look in again on his way 'home.'"
Swithin grunted, "Umph! What else did he say?"
"He said you didn't take care of yourself."
"Has anybody else been to see me?"
The valet turned away his eyes. "Mrs. Thomas Forsyte came last Monday
"How long have I been ill?"
"Five weeks on Saturday."
"Do you think I'm very bad?"
Adolf's face was covered suddenly with crow's-feet. "You have no business
to ask me question like that! I am not paid, sir, to answer question like
Swithin said faintly: "You're a peppery fool! Open a bottle of champagne!"
Adolf took a bottle of champagne—from a cupboard and held nippers to
it. He fixed his eyes on Swithin. "The doctor said—"
"Open the bottle!"
"It is not—"
"Open the bottle—or I give you warning."
Adolf removed the cork. He wiped a glass elaborately, filled it, and bore
it scrupulously to the bedside. Suddenly twirling his moustaches, he wrung
his hands, and burst out: "It is poison."
Swithin grinned faintly. "You foreign fool!" he said. "Get out!"
The valet vanished.
'He forgot himself!' thought Swithin. Slowly he raised the glass, slowly
put it back, and sank gasping on his pillows. Almost at once he fell
He dreamed that he was at his club, sitting after dinner in the crowded
smoking-room, with its bright walls and trefoils of light. It was there
that he sat every evening, patient, solemn, lonely, and sometimes fell
asleep, his square, pale old face nodding to one side. He dreamed that he
was gazing at the picture over the fireplace, of an old statesman with a
high collar, supremely finished face, and sceptical eyebrows—the
picture, smooth, and reticent as sealing-wax, of one who seemed for ever
exhaling the narrow wisdom of final judgments. All round him, his fellow
members were chattering. Only he himself, the old sick member, was silent.
If fellows only knew what it was like to sit by yourself and feel ill all
the time! What they were saying he had heard a hundred times. They were
talking of investments, of cigars, horses, actresses, machinery. What was
that? A foreign patent for cleaning boilers? There was no such thing;
boilers couldn't be cleaned, any fool knew that! If an Englishman couldn't
clean a boiler, no foreigner could clean one. He appealed to the old
statesman's eyes. But for once those eyes seemed hesitating, blurred,
wanting in finality. They vanished. In their place were Rozsi's little
deep-set eyes, with their wide and far-off look; and as he gazed they
seemed to grow bright as steel, and to speak to him. Slowly the whole face
grew to be there, floating on the dark background of the picture; it was
pink, aloof, unfathomable, enticing, with its fluffy hair and quick lips,
just as he had last seen it. "Are you looking for something?" she seemed
to say: "I could show you."
"I have everything safe enough," answered Swithin, and in his sleep he
He felt the touch of fingers on his forehead. 'I'm dreaming,' he thought
in his dream.
She had vanished; and far away, from behind the picture, came a sound of
Aloud, in his sleep, Swithin muttered: "I've missed it."
Again he heard the rustling of those light footsteps, and close in his ear
a sound, like a sob. He awoke; the sob was his own. Great drops of
perspiration stood on his forehead. 'What is it?' he thought; 'what have I
lost?' Slowly his mind travelled over his investments; he could not think
of any single one that was unsafe. What was it, then, that he had lost?
Struggling on his pillows, he clutched the wine-glass. His lips touched
the wine. 'This isn't the "Heidseck"!' he thought angrily, and before the
reality of that displeasure all the dim vision passed away. But as he bent
to drink, something snapped, and, with a sigh, Swithin Forsyte died above
When James Forsyte came in again on his way home, the valet, trembling
took his hat and stick.
"How's your master?"
"My master is dead, sir!"
"Dead! He can't be! I left him safe an hour ago."
On the bed Swithin's body was doubled like a sack; his hand still grasped
James Forsyte paused. "Swithin!" he said, and with his hand to his ear he
waited for an answer; but none came, and slowly in the glass a last bubble
rose and burst.