Read SALVATION OF A FORSYTE - VII of Villa Rubein and Other Stories , free online book, by John Galsworthy, on

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 krönen, 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.