WITH A SMALL N
ON the night of the Monday following, after Fleur had gone to bed, Michael and Soames sat listening to the mutter of London coming through the windows of the Chinese room opened to the brooding heat.
"They say the war killed sentiment," said Soames suddenly: "Is that true?"
"In a way, yes, sir. We had so much reality that we don't want any more."
"I don't follow you."
"I meant that only reality really makes you feel. So if you pretend there is no reality, you don't have to feel. It answers awfully well, up to a point."
"Ah!" said Soames. "Her mother comes up to-morrow morning, to stay. This P. P. R. S. meeting of mine is at half past two. Good night!"
Michael, at the window, watched the heat gathered black over the Square. A few tepid drops fell on his outstretched hand. A cat stole by under a lamp-post, and vanished into shadow so thick that it seemed uncivilised.
Queer question of 'Old Forsyte's' about sentiment; odd that he should ask it! 'Up to a point! But don't we all get past that point?' he thought. Look at Wilfrid, and himself--after the war they had deemed it blasphemous to admit that anything mattered except eating and drinking, for to-morrow they died; even fellows like Nazing, and Master, who were never in the war, had felt like that ever since. Well, Wilfrid had got it in the neck; and he himself had got it in the wind; and he would bet that--barring one here and there whose blood was made of ink--they would all get it in the neck or