Small, determined to get to the bottom of the matter. And she began:
'What a charming woman, Mrs Soames; such a sympathetic temperament! Soames is a really lucky man!'
Her anxiety for information had not made sufficient allowance for that inner Forsyte skin which refuses to share its troubles with outsiders; Mrs Septimus Small, drawing herself up with a creak and rustle of her whole person, said, shivering in her dignity:
'My dear, it is a subject we do not talk about!'
NIGHT IN THE PARK
ALTHOUGH with her infallible instinct Mrs Small had said the very thing to make her guest 'more intriguée than ever,' it is difficult to see how else she could truthfully have spoken.
It was not a subject which the Forsytes could talk about even among themselves--to use the word Soames had invented to characterize to himself the situation, it was 'subterranean.'
Yet, within a week of Mrs MacAnder's encounter in Richmond Park, to all of them--save Timothy, from whom it was carefully kept--to James on his domestic beat from the Poultry to Park Lane, to George the wild one, on his daily adventure from the bow window at the Hayersnake to the billiard room at the 'Red Pottle,' was it known that 'those two' had gone to extremes.
George (it was he who invented many of those striking expressions still current in fashionable circles) voiced the sentiment more accurately than any one when he said to his brother Eustace that 'The Buccaneer' was 'going it'; he expected Soames was about 'fed up.'
It was felt that he must be, and yet, what could be done? He ought perhaps to take steps; but to take steps would be deplorable.
Without an open scandal which they could not see their way to recommending, it was difficult to see what steps could be taken. In this impasse, the only thing was to say nothing to Soames, and nothing to each other; in fact, to pass it over.